Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finally! Dempsey's Long Awaited Breakout Performance

Your loyal vagabond is off skiing in the Alps so we'll turn this weekend's recap over to LFV friend Ives Galarcep, who has a nice piece on Clint Dempsey's breakout performance for Fulham.

Also, our Amsterdam connection Greg Seltzer goes one better and provides videos. Check them out here.

It was also a banner day for American skiers today with five Americans finishing in the top ten in the downhill at Val Gardena. Bode Miller finally got off the schneide and onto the podium this year finishing second to Austria's Michael Walchhofer.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Canadian Ace Signs For 'Gladbach

Michael Bradley's Borussia Moenchengladbach side is making some shrewd deals this winter to keep themselves afloat in the Bundesliga during the second half of the season. Canadian vet Paul Stalteri, who last played in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen, has been signed from Tottenam Hotspur. The versatile 31 year-old can play in defense or midfield and his playing style is uniquely suited to the forceful play of the Bundesliga. He has been out on loan to Fulham this season and his deal with Gladbach will keep him at the club until 2011.

Gladbach had also expressed interest in Standard Liege's American defender Oguchi Onyewu but now it appears that they've settled for his central defense partner Dante (from Brazil). This move could make it even more difficult for the club to now sell Onyewu, unless the price is right.

Gladbach also signed Belgian keeper Logan Bailey and Czech midfielder Tomas Galasek. American fans may remember the veteran Galasek as the hard-tackling holding midfielder for the Czech Republic during their 3-0 win over the Stars and Stripes during the 2006 World Cup.

Marseille Still Eying Onyewu

Olympique Marseille coach Eric Gerets is still keen to possibly sign Stantard Liege central defender Oguchi Onyewu. According to France Football, Gerets was at Standard's recent UEFA Cup match against Sampdoria to observe Onyewu, who scored in his team's 3-0 win.

Gerets is looking for help to strengthen his team's central defense which has been a disappointment, despite the club's current fifth place standing in Ligue 1. Their defensive softness was most vividly displayed last weekend in a 3-0 loss to Nancy. During that dismal performance, the central midfield and defense did not communicate well and L'OM was overall weak in one-on-one challenges. Observers have noted that this year's edition of L'OM is strong on paper but mentally weak. The addition of Onyewu, a player Gerets referred to as "intense and strong" could be just what the team needs to challenge for one of the league's top places this season.

Any move for Onyewu would likely be tied to the fate of central defender Ronald Zubar, a player once linked to Arsenal and Olympique Lyon but who has had a disappointing season. The trick for Gerets is whether he decides he can bring the once-promising French U-21 player back into form or sell him off and go after Onyewu.

But L'OM is also interested in Onyewu's teammate Milan Jovanovich to strenghen their attack. So, talks between the two teams won't necessarily mean that Gooch is in play although a package deal is remotely possible. With a price tage estimated at 12 million euros, Jovanovich may be too pricey for Marseille so they may settle for bringing in veteran striker Henrik Larsson from Helsingborg (for an estimated 5 million euros).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Its Official: Subotic To Play For Serbia

Well, its official now that Neven Subotic has decided to play for Serbia and has informed both the US Soccer Federation and the European press. Its a shame that this rising defensive star won't suit up for the Stars and Stripes but I'm not really that bothered by it given the wave of talent we have coming forward. Our central defense is still very healthy with Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra playing some of the best soccer of their careers right now.

When I look at the quality of the US U-23 and U-20 players coming up these days, it is obvious that enough talent will be available to make up for the loss of players such as Subotic. Our Olympic team had enough quality last summer to have won the gold medal - something we couldn't always say in the past. Instead of European clubs hiring our proven vets, they are scooping up our young talent - can anyone say Altidore, Adu, Bradley, Zizzo, Szetela, Bernardo, and soon Kljestan, Wynne, and others?

I know some of you will want to blame Thomas Rongen, who reportedly rubbed Subotic the wrong way - please don't. Rongen is a respected coach because he knows the game well, trains his players hard, and calls them like he sees them. Besides, he is Dutch - a people known for their blunt honesty and disdain for doublespeak (yet another reason to love them). Does anyone really think if Rongen had given Subotic the "Barney" treatment he would be suiting up for the USA? Please!

So my fellow US soccer fans, let's wish Neven the best of luck playing for his father's homeland and not get too whiny over this development. There are still lots of hungry young players busting their tail every day for a chance to one day pull on that US jersey (and bring home some silver for a change). Let's focus on supporting them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kljestan in Milan - And Playing In The San Siro!

Sorry folks but it does not look like Sacha Kljestan is in Milan for talks with either of the city's two powerhouse clubs, AC and Inter. Instead, he is in Milan to play for the Ambassadors of Peace team in a charity match against the Iraqi national team. Kljestan didn't show any jet lag and was quite active in midfield during the second half, causing problems for the Iraqi defense.

The event was organized by the group Un Goal Per La Pace (A Goal For Peace) and the proceeds will go to aid the children of Iraq. AC Milan coach Carlo Anceloti's Ambassadors of Peace team ended up beating the young Iraqi side 2-1.

Now, it remains to be seen if Kljestan takes a detour out to Bergamo for a chat with Atalanta (a side which has been interested in him), or jumps on a plane and heads home for Christmas. Of course, that trip home could always make a stop elsewhere in Europe on the way back...

Beasley's Car Vandalized in Glasgow

Now this is just plain cold. It looks like he is the fourth Rangers player to have his car vandalized this way. Too bad they picked a guy who has only made a handful of appearances this year.

No wonder Da Beas' may be be interested in a move to someplace warm like Osasuna, Espanyol, or Wolfsburg (where he can see more playing time and keep his BMW in one piece).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Where Are They Now? Melchior Arnold

This is our first installment of a new series of short articles on former players and what they are doing now that their playing days are over. This time, its Melchior Arnold, an American defender/midfielder who in recent years was playing for Swiss sides Lucerne, Lugano, and later Chiasso before retiring from the game. He then went over to Korea where he was an assistant coach at Pusan before moving on to a career as a life coach and soccer consultant.

I started with Melchior because these days he is living the true vagabond lifestyle touring the world on a journey which would make Jack Kerouac look like a homebody. Right now he is somewhere on the west coast of India.


You can follow his travels here.


Is there abother former player you are curious about? Let us know and we'll hunt them down.

Sacha Kljestan Closer To A Deal In Europe?

Chivas USA's Sacha Kljestan has been on the radar of more than a few European clubs since his strong showing at last summer's Olympic Games. A few Dutch and German clubs have reported interest in the young American along with Moncao, Zenith St Petersburg, and Greek side Piraeus.

Word out of LA this weekend is that Kljestan is about to board a plane headed for Milan. What is not clear is whether he is going for talks with a nearby club, catching a connecting flight to Monaco, or playing in a charity match which could raise his profile even higher on this side of the pond.

If we recall the Courtney Rule that for every known European club interested in a player, there is at least one more quietly working a deal in the shadows, don't be surprised if Kljestan is drawing more attention south of the Alps.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sorting Out The Onyewu Transfer Rumors

It seems every few months we need to debunk a few transfer rumors about where Oguchi Onyewu could be going if Standard Liege decides to sell him in January. As we've reported before, there has always been strong interest from France (Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Marseille in particular) but little has come of this interest.

There has also been interest from nearby Borussia Moenchengladbach, which is struggling to stay up in the Bundesliga this season. If Gladbach has any chance for Onyewu, it would not be until next summer. Another nearby Bundesliga club, 1FC Cologne was also interested but whether they still have Gooch in their cross hairs remains to be seen. So, the French clubs appear to be the front runners (barring any English club which could swoop in, most likely Fulham).

Right now, Marseille's number one target for central defense is Fiorentina's Brazilian Manuel Da Costa. Gooch is also on their short list, along with Galatasaray's Servet Cetin and Atletico Minerio's Leandro Almeida. Fiorientina are keen to secure a Champion's League spot and may not be ready to let go of Da Costa, leaving Onyewu and Cetin as the most likely options.

PSG never truly solved their central defense problem after the sudden retirement of new signing Lillian Thuram due to a heart condition. Onyewu could certainly fit into the side well but given Standard's strong showing in the Jupiler League and UEFA Cup competition this year, the club will drive a hard bargain before they give up the man who has become the team's talisman.

In short? Still few facts but lots of rumors.

More Subotic Rumors

Local paper Il Mattino is reporting that SSC Napoli is close to acquiring Neven Subotic from Borussia Dortmund. The 20 year-old defender seems to be part of Napoli's plans to strengthen the squad after securing a Champions League berth during the home stretch of the season. He is expected at Castel Volturno in June where your loyal vagabond will be sure to have a word with him....if he shows up. Given the number of unfounded rumors which find their way into the local papers, I'll believe this one when the clubs make an official announcement.

And guess who may actually be coming to Napoli (and could play alongside Subotic in central defense)? None other than hometown boy Fabio Cannavaro, the 2006 World Cup MVP currently under contract with Real Madrid. Current word in Napoli is that he may show up a January transfer to play alongside little brother Paolo Cannavaro who currently plays central defense. The idea that a dream central defense of the hometown Cannavaro brothers could be spoiled by signing Subotic also tells my spidey sense that he may not be coming to town.

Fabio has made it clear he'd like to finish his career in Napoli and the sputtering Real Madrid may want to let the ageing Italian international go to make room for new talent. If Subotic actually does arrive in June, it could get crowded talent-wise in central defense. Its not clear yet how coach Edy Reja would organize the influx of talent but one thing is clear, Napoli's ambitions for the coming year are clear.

While the local papers are referring to Subotic as a "young American player," Serbian coach Radomir Antic is now saying that the defender has committed to play for the White Eagles and will make his debut in February against Cyprus. Its hard to tell if this claim is true because Subotic has yet to make an announcement himself and he has been stating for months that he won't decide on that matter until the end of the season. While it is plausible that he may have changed his mind in the midst of the Napoli deal, I remain skeptical on this one until we hear it from Neven himself.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

FINAL FOUR CATEGORY WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR BEST OF US SOCCER AWARDS

Courtesy of US Soccer:

CHICAGO (Dec. 17, 2008) – The final four winners of the 2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards were announced on Wednesday on ussoccer.com, with Studio 90 presenting the fan’s choices for Best Performance: Team, Best Goal: Men, Best Goal: Women and Best Photo.

Fans can watch a special presentation of all 12 winners on ussoccer.com’s Studio 90, which has already showcased the first eight award winners, including Best Assist, Best all_access Video, Best Fan Photo, Best Soccer Specialty Store, Best Performance: Player, Best Soccer Bar and Best Soccer Blog.

Watch the Winners Now!
On Thursday, Dec. 18, U.S. Soccer will announce the winners for the 2008 Athlete of the Year Awards, which include Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female Athletes of the Year. As the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Athlete of the Year Awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women. As in years past, online votes for the annual award were tallied and counted for to 50 percent of the total, while the other 50 percent was compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives, including National Team coaches and members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors.

All four of the final “Best Of” Awards have China as their common thread, and the Beijing Olympics provided some of the most memorable moments of the year for the men's and women's national teams.

The award for Best Performance: Team was never going to be a contest, with the U.S. Women's National Team taking the prize for their gold medal winning effort against Brazil. The 1-0 victory in the championship match earned 52 percent of the vote, far outpacing the MNT's performances against Argentina and Poland, which finished second (21 percent) and third (8 percent) respectively.

Best Goal: Women came from the same game, with Carli Lloyd's gold medal winning strike earning the most votes from the fans. Lloyd's fizzer into the bottom corner earned 31 percent of the vote, while Lori Chalupny's shot into the top left corner against Japan earned 27 percent. In third place was Becky Edwards' rocket against Cuba during U-20 CONCACAF qualifying.

Best Photo went to “Jump for Joy,” which captured U.S. players Heather O'Reilly and Natasha Kai in mid celebration after the final whistle against Brazil. The photograph took in 31 percent of the vote, beating Triple Celebration (25 percent) and Cuba Cuatro (16 percent).

The Best Goal on the Men's side also came from China, with Sacha Kljestan's strike against the Netherlands getting 28 percent of the fan vote. Kljestan's well-taken shot finished ahead of two goals from the U.S. MNT's game against their biggest rival, Mexico. Oguchi Onyewu's powerful header and Jozy Altidore's first goal for the full national team both tied for second place with 20 percent of the vote.

Up next in the award season is the results for 2008 Athlete of the Year. The awards for Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female Athletes of the Year will be announced on ussoccer.com on Thursday, Dec. 18.

2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Results – Performance: Team, Goal: Men, Goal: Women, Photo

Best Performance: Team
1. U.S. WNT vs. Brazil – Aug. 21 52 %
2. U.S. MNT vs. Argentina – June 8 21 %
3. U.S. MNT vs. Poland – March 26 8 %

Best Goal: Women
1. Carli Lloyd vs. Brazil – Aug. 21 31 %
2. Lori Chalupny vs. Japan – Aug. 18 20 %
3. Becky Edwards vs. Cuba – June 20 14 %

Best Goal: Men
1. Sacha Kljestan vs. Netherlands – Aug. 10 28 %
2. Oguchi Onyewu vs. Mexico – Feb. 6 20 %
3. Jozy Altidore vs. Mexico – Feb. 6 20 %

Best Photo
1. Jump for Joy 31 %
2. Triple Celebration 25 %
3. Cuba Cuatro 16 %

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mark Your Calendars: USA-Mexico On February 11th

Courtesy of US Soccer:

CHICAGO (Dec. 15, 2008) — For the third consecutive time in final round qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, U.S. Soccer has selected Columbus Crew Stadium to host the home leg between the United States and Mexico. The USA’s most anticipated match of the final round will be played Wednesday, Feb. 11, with kickoff times and broadcast information to be announced at a later date. Fans will be able to follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

The match in Columbus is the first of five qualifiers in the Final Round to be played in the United States. Ticketing details will be announced in the near future. “We are very excited about returning to Columbus,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who guided the U.S. to a 7-1-0 record through the first two rounds of FIFA World Cup qualifying. “The national team has enjoyed a great history there, and the team has always appreciated the fantastic support from the fans. We are looking forward to an incredible atmosphere as we continue the difficult task of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”

The Columbus Crew Stadium match will be the sixth World Cup qualifier hosted by the nine-year-old venue. The U.S. has a 3-0-2 record in qualifying and an unbeaten 4-0-3 all-time record in the stadium. In the first meeting on Feb. 28, 2001 – dubbed the “Guerra Fria (‘Cold War’)” because the game-time temperature topped out at 29 degrees - goals by Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart paced the U.S. to a 2-0 victory.

Four years later on Sept. 3, 2005, goals by Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley earned the United States another 2-0 win and officially booked their place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. “Our first priority is to give our team the best chance to be successful and achieve the goal of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, and Columbus Crew Stadium has always been a great venue for the national team," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “We carefully considered our options, and ultimately we felt that playing in Columbus is the right fit for this match.”

The match on Feb. 11 will mark the 55th meeting between the USA and Mexico. The U.S. has dominated the series of late, collecting an 8-0-2 home record against Mexico since 2000. During that span, the USA has netted 17 goals, while the Mexicans have scored only three on American soil in this decade. Under head coach Bob Bradley, the U.S. has a 2-0-1 record against their border rivals, including a 2-1 victory in the 2007 Gold Cup final in Chicago that delivered the U.S. its second-consecutive regional championship and a place in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, where they will play current World Champion Italy, Brazil and Egypt.

The U.S., along with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Trinidad & Tobago, is competing in the 10-game round-robin format through Oct. 14, 2009, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 14/18 against the fifth-place finisher in South American qualifying.

The U.S. Men’s National Team will kick off a busy 2009 schedule when they face Sweden on Saturday, Jan. 24, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Kickoff for the USA’s only tune-up match prior to the start of final round qualifying is set for at 5:30 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision. Fans can also follow the game live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Barcelona-Real Madrid Recap

As you can tell, we're winding down for a few weeks but we'll keep our ear to the ground for any January transfer news out there.

In the meantime, in case you missed the Barcelona-Real Madrid game this weekend, you can't do much better than to check out Rob Hughes' recap of the match.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

'Gladbach Interested in Onyewu

Add another club to the list of teams interested in Standard Liege's American defender Oguchi Onyewu. Now, Kicker is reporting that Borussia Moenchengladbach (Michael Bradley's team) is interested in acquiring Gooch.

While 'Gladbach could certainly use help on the back line, its hard to see Gooch taking a transfer to a team which appears bound for relegation to the Second Bundesliga (unless he is confident enough to think he can help them stay up).

I expect Onyewu and his agent will hold out for a deal (be it in January or June) which takes him to a team competing in the Champions League. Otherwise, as our Amsterdam buddy Greg Seltzer says, why leave Standard - a team competing for another league championship and a European trophy?

UEFA Cup: Gooch, Standard Crush Sampdoria


Standard Liege continues to punch above its weight this season, this time with a 3-0 win over Serie A side Sampdoria. With American defender Oguchi Onyewu anchoring a strong Standard defense while the Belgian side's attack put the Genoa side under pressure early and often.

Igor De Camargo opened scoring in the 23rd minute on a header past Sampdoria keeper Luca Castellazzi, who was a busy man on the tonight. Just over ten minutes later, a De Camargo corner found Onyewu outleaping the rest to head the ball home for a 2-0 lead. Shortly before halftime, a left footed blast from Milan Jovanovic sent both teams to the locker room with the home side leading a 3-0.

Sampdoria had one good scoring chance in the second half but Marius Stankevičius' shot buzzed just above the bar. Meanwhile Jovanivic and Dieudonné Mbokani continued to lead attacks on Samp's goal but muffed some well set up chances. With both teams running out of steam, the match faded out like a 1970s pop record.

The win put Standard Liege into the final 32 knockout stage which starts on December 18th and 19th.

Photo courtesy of UEFA.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pescara Players, Fans In Revolt

Do you think bailouts are just for banks and automakers? Think again.

Yesterday, thirteen players of Italian Serie C (Lega Pro) side Pescara have asked the club's board to release them since they have not been paid in months. In fact, they've been paid only once since the season began as the club continues to crumble financially. If the club does not pay the players and coaching staff's wages in the next 20 days, a court proceeding will decide on whether to declare them bankrupt, or accept a local government bailout plan to infuse circa 3.2 million euros into the club to keep it afloat.

Pescara last played in Serie A back in 1993, but they were unable to keep pace with the bigger, more well run clubs and languished in Serie B and C, where they are now five points behind the leaders and with some chance of earning promotion - provided the club does not collapse.

The Abruzzo club was already on the verge of bankruptcy when in October, the club's management sold it to Swiss firm Eurocat - but the downward spiral continued. And now, local and national politics are involved since a group of Pescara fans wrote to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, warning that if their club collapses, there may be repercussions in an upcoming regional election.

Berlusconi has been supporting Giovanni Chiodi, a candidate for the presidency of the Abruzzo region for the Popolo delle Liberta (PDL). Elections will be held on December 14th, after the resignation of regional president Ottaviano Del Turco for his role in a financial scandal.

The fans' letter also suggested that Berlusconi back away from supporting Gerardo Soglia, a former club president who was elected to the parliament from Berlusconi's PDL party. The fans say Soglia is responsible for running the club into the ground, leading to the October sale and their current state of affairs. To punish Soglia, the fans want to vote against the PDL.

To make matters even more intriguing, the local bailout plan for the club is being supported by Pescara mayor Luciano D'Alfonso, a political opponent of Soglia. But even D'Alfonso may end up in hot water himself since the bailout plan will likely mean the Italian football federation will relegate the club to the fourth or fifth division.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lavezzi: Not Going Anywhere

Napoli's Argentine wunderkind Ezequiel Lavezzi is a man in demand these days. The spark he brought to newly promoted Napoli last year kept them in the upper half of the table and this year, along with fellow countryman German Denis and a host of others, has Napoli up to fourth place in Serie A.

"El Pocho" is often compared to Argentina legend (and current national coach) Diego Maradona but he has a style all his own. Lavezzi has blazing speed and technique but his uncanny abilty to change speed and direction (on or off the ball) makes him a danger to any defense. The list of defenders he has faked out of their jock strap this year alone is long and distinguished.

Almost on cue, deep pocketed Chelsea has taken a shine to the Napoli ace but last night he told the Italian press he is not interested. "I am happy at Napoli," he said. "I like the city of Naples and the team so I'll stay here - it's better than going to England." Not the kind of thing feedback Permiership clubs are used to receiving.

But now Inter president Massimo Moratti is talking about trying to pry him loose from Napoli, a club which can always use the money but one which also values pride and loyalty above all. They've been eyeing him along with Chelsea's Didier Drogba but that deal is looking less likely so their focus is now on Lavezzi. Regardless of Napoli's statements that he is not for sale, we can expect to see lots of leaks from Inter to the Gazetta Dello Sport with outlandishly high offers for Lavezzi, all in an attempt to put pressure on the Napoli board.

Given his huge impact on the team, his cult hero status in the city, and the throngs of fans who show up every night at Castel Volturno just to get a look at El Pocho, its hard to think of any offer high enough to convince the club to sell.

Donovan's Situation At Bayern Looking Up?

We've all had our questions about how Landon Donovan will fit into the scheme at Bayern Munich when his loan starts in January and the picture may be getting clearer. As it turns out, an unfortunate injury to Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez, who tore a muscle in 2-0 win over Schalke last weekend (in which he scored), may end up impacting Donovan's playing time at Bayern.

The Munich giants have had their eye on Gomez for some time and the word in town was that the club would pick him up in January and simultaneously dish off Lukas Podolski to his old club, 1FC Koeln. Now, its not clear if Gomez will be in any kind of condition for a January transfer so the Donovan loan is looking more like a prudent move and less like an experiment. Depending on Gomez' condition, Bayern (not to mention Real Madrid), may now need to wait until the summer transfer window, soon after Donovan heads back to LA.

What this means for Donovan is that he'll more likely spend his loan period in the striker rotation behind Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose (who will likely need some rest during Champions League weeks). If Gomez had entered the mix, Donovan would have quickly found himself as the number four striker in the mix, provided he continued to outshine Lukas Podolski in practice. So, if Donovan shows up ready to play, he stands a good chance of getting some meaningful playing time. We'll see.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jozy Starts Against Huelva

American striker Jozy Altidore made a rare start for Villarreal against Huelva tonight in a 2-1 win to put the Yellow Submarine in second place behind Barcelona. Altidore caused trouble for the Huelva defense early, creating a chance of his own which was stopped by keeper Riesgo.

Ironically, Recreatico Huelva was the destination for a possible January loan for Altidore but such talk died down in mid October. Now, having seen the goods, perhaps Huelva will be interested again, provided Villarreal boss Manuel Pelligrini can spare this young talent for six months.

Fellow New Jersey native Giuseppe Rossi started and was substituted in the 90th minute while Altidore was replaced by Edmilson in the 78th with the team up 2-0.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bradley Own Goal Helps Foals To 3-1 Loss

Just a week after scoring his first Bundesliga goal, American Michael Bradley scored another this week, just not for his team. So, when things were looking up for his new stint at Borussia Moenchengladbach, an own goal against Energie Cottbus didn't help. In the early going, a 3rd minute header by Bradley could have put the Foals ahead early if not for a good save by Cottbus keeper Gerhard Tremmel.

Cottbus put 'Gladbach under lots of pressure early and a 17th minute give-and-go put Ivica Iliev parallel to the goal where he lashed in a flat cross which glanced off Bradley and into the home team's goal for a 1-0 lead which the visitors carried into halftime.

"Gladbach got some good chances early in the second half on combinations from Bradley and Alex Baumjohann but could not equalize. In the 51st minute, Cottbus scored again for a 2-0 lead before 59th minute Baumjohann goal got the Foals back in the game, making it 2-1.

Bradley was substituted in the 70th minute by Tony Jantschke and later an 85th minute Cottbus goal sealed the win at 3-1. The loss put 'Gladbach into the relegation zone in 16th place with 11 points and a minus 14 goal differential. The Foals now have 23 matches left to score at least 38 total points, otherwise its a trip back to the Second Bundesliga.

Eleswhere in Europe, Freddy Adu watched from the bench as AS Monaco picked up a 1-0 win over Auxerre. Carlos Bocanegra and fourth place Stade Rennais take on fifth place Paris Saint-Germain tomorrow. A win for either side could mean taking over second place behind Olympique Lyon, provided Nice and Marseille stumble this weekend.

In Serie B, Danny Szetela went the distance in midfield for Brescia in their 2-0 win over Mantova in the Lombardia derby. The win bumped Brescia up to fifth place in Serie B with 26 points, just two behind leaders Sassuolo.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Soccer Fans!

Well, I'm off with my wife to the other side of Italy for a few days to check out the heel of the boot. We hope soccer fans everywhere have a great Thanksgiving and we'll be back up online this weekend.

In the meantime, check out my new article at Soccer Times which gets more in depth on a few American players (pictured here) which readers have said they'd like to know more about. To find out who they are, check the link above.

Photo by Rodrigo Erades

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pearce Gets New Coach At Rostock

Just a week after Heath Pearce's Hansa Rostock was crushed 6-0 at Kaiserslutern, a new savior has appeared in manager Dieter Eilts. After picking up only two points in their last five matches, a savior seems to be just what they need.

This is good news for American defender Heath Pearce, whose team is mired in 14th place and instead of seeking promotion back to the Bundesliga, is in danger of relegation to the 3rd division.

Eilts, a former German international with 31 caps, had a storied career at Werder Bremen making 397 appearances and was best know for his grit and incredible work rate in midfield and defense. Until recently he was the coach of Germany's U-21 squad before the federation let him go three weeks ago. Eilts has always had a reputation as a level-headed player and coach and he is expected to bring this approach to the troubled Hansa side.

Eilts makes his coaching debut for Hansa tonight in a nationally televised match against 1860 Munich (Gregg Berhalter's club). Pearce, suspended for two matches after a hard foul in last week's loss to Kaiserslautern, will watch from the stands.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tough Draw For USA In 2009 Confederations Cup

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer Communications Center:

U.S. TO PLAY WORLD CHAMPIONS ITALY, BRAZIL AND EGYPT IN GROUP B
OF 2009 FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP IN SOUTH AFRICA

CHICAGO (Nov. 22, 2008) – The United States has been drawn into a powerful Group B along with reigning world champions Italy, five-time World Cup winners Brazil, and reigning African Cup of Nations winners Egypt for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that will be played from June 14-28, 2009, in South Africa. The U.S. kicks off action against Italy on June 15 at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria, and then faces Brazil on June 18 in the same venue. The United States finishes group play on June 21 against Egypt at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Tournament hosts South Africa will open the event against Iraq on June 14 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The two teams were drawn into Group A along with current European Champions Spain and OFC Champions New Zealand. Played in four venues during two weeks, the tournament will serve as excellent preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. [Opponent Capsules]

The U.S. opens Group B play against Italy, in what will be the fourth time the teams have met in a major international tournament. Most recently, the U.S. and Italy faced off the thrilling 1-1 draw in the second match of group play in the 2006 FIFA World Cup on June 17, 2006, in Kaiserslautern. One of the finest performances in team history, that match is as memorable for the massive support of U.S. fans as for the team holding off the Italians after being reduced to nine men. The United States has never beaten the current world champions, holding a lifetime record of 0-3-3. Italy, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, is participating in their first Confederations Cup.

Next up is a clash with two-time Confederations Cup winners Brazil, who qualified for the tournament after blanking favored Argentina 3-0 in the final of the 2007 Copa America. The U.S. and Brazil are meeting for the third time in Confederations Cup play, having met previously in the middle group matches both in 1999 in Mexico and the 2003 edition in France. Brazil captured 1-0 victories in both contests, Ronaldinho getting the winner in Guadalajara in 1999 and Adriano in Lyon four years later. Overall, the U.S. holds a 1-12-0 lifetime record against the five-time world champions, the lone victory coming Feb. 10, 1998, a 1-0 win in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. The teams faced off last year in Chicago, goals by Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey putting the U.S. level before Ronaldinho broke the draw en route to a 4-2 win for Brazil on Sept. 9, 2007 in front of 43,543 at Soldier Field.

The U.S. closes out group play against Egypt on June 21 in Rustenburg. They teams have only played once before, Egypt going out 3-1 winners on June 8, 1987, in Seoul, Korea Republic. The Pharaohs have been one of the dominant sides on the African continent, claiming a record six Africa Cup of Nations titles, including back-to-back triumphs in 2006 and 2008. Egypt is playing in their second FIFA Confederations Cup, having participated in the 1999 event in Mexico.

The U.S. will play its first two matches at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria. The stadium currently has a seating capacity of 45,000. Opened in 1903, the ground hosted matches for the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. It is now used by Mamelodi Sundowns as their home ground.

The match against Egypt will be held at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg. The stadium is named after the Bafokeng people who live in the area. Upon completion, the stadium will seat 42,000. The South African national team played a FIFA World Cup qualifying game in the venue against Bakino Faso in 2001.

The U.S. is playing in its fourth FIFA Confederations Cup tournament, having appeared most recently in the 2003 event in a group with Brazil, Turkey and Cameroon. The team reached the semifinals of the 1999 tournament, beating Germany and New Zealand in group play before losing to hosts Mexico in the semifinals. The matches next year will represent the USA’s second time playing on South African soil, the team having defeated South Africa 1-0 on Nov. 11, 2007, in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
Group B Schedule
Date Match Venue Time (local/ET)
June 15 Brazil-Egypt Mangaung/Bloemfontein 4 p.m. / 10 a.m.
USA-Italy Tshwane/Pretoria 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
June 18 USA-Brazil Tshwane/Pretoria 4 p.m. / 10 a.m.
Egypt-Italy Johannesburg 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
June 21 Italy-Brazil Tshwane/Pretoria 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.
Egypt-USA Rustenburg 8:30 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.

Next Stage of US World Cup Qualifying Starts Feb. 11th Against Mexico

Courtesy of US Soccer:


CHICAGO (Nov. 22, 2008) — The United States will continue its bid to qualify for its sixth consecutive World Cup finals on Feb. 11 against Mexico at home. The final round draw for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying was announced this morning from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The U.S., along with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Trinidad & Tobago, will compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 11-Oct. 14, 2009, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 14 and Nov. 18 against the fifth-place finisher in South American qualifying.

Drawn as Team 6 in the Final Round format, the U.S. faces a tricky road to South Africa as they open up against their biggest rival in the region at home and never has any consecutive home dates. The U.S. plays a fairly balanced schedule, bouncing between home and away matches, only to have back-to-back away games late in the qualifying stretch for Matches 8 and 9. Venues for the USA’s five home matches will be announced as they are finalized.

All of the match dates for Final Round qualifying are scheduled to take place on dates set aside for international play on the FIFA Coordinated Calendar for 2009. [Opponent Capsules]

After playing Mexico, the U.S. kicks off their away schedule of the qualifying campaign against El Salvador on March 28, and then returns home on April 1 to face Trinidad & Tobago. The halfway point for the Hexagonal arrives in June, with the U.S. facing Costa Rica away on June 3 and then returning to the U.S. to host Honduras on June 6, which will complete the first half of the Final Round. The Costa Rica match was moved from June 10 to June 3 to accomodate the USA's participation in the Confederations Cup.

The second stand-alone date of the Final Round falls on Aug. 12 with the U.S. traveling to the unfriendly confines of Mexico. The U.S. will have two straight double dates, starting with hosting El Salvador on Sept. 5 before heading to Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 9. The three teams that will automatically advance to the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be decided on the final double date, which begins for the United States on Oct. 10 away to Honduras. The U.S. concludes the final round on Oct. 14 at home against Costa Rica.

The United States has qualified for five consecutive World Cup finals, amassing a lifetime record of 53-31-28 in World Cup qualifying play. With a record of 34-6-11 on U.S. soil, the team has lost only one home qualifier since 1985.

The U.S. advanced to the final round hexagonal as winners of Group 1, going 5-1-0 in the semifinal phase. The United States captured their first-ever road qualifying win in Guatemala, then defeated Cuba in the team’s first visit to the island nation since 1947. At home the U.S. continued to dominate, collecting a convincing 3-0 shutout victory against Trinidad & Tobago and a 6-1 win against Cuba that saw the U.S. qualified before the round’s conclusion. Dating back to the start of the second round, the U.S. won six consecutive qualifiers, setting the record for most consecutive games won in one cycle (set during qualifying for Germany 2006). The U.S. also posted three straight road victories in qualifying for the first time ever.

The U.S. and Costa Rica are nearly evenly split throughout the series history, each team maintaining dominance on home soil. The U.S. has never won a qualifying match in Costa Rica, going 0-6-1 lifetime. The teams met in the final round of 2006 World Cup qualifying, with the U.S. turning in one of their finest performances of the stage in the 3-0 win on June 4, 2005, in front of a raucous crowd in Salt Lake. With the U.S. already through to Germany, the Ticos returned the favor by earning a matching 3-0 scoreline on the return leg in San Jose on Oct. 8 at Estadio Saprissa. Costa Rica breezed through to the Final Round as the only team in CONCACAF that remains undefeated in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Ticos manhandled Group 3 that included El Salvador, Haiti, and Suriname, pumping in 20 goals while surrendering only three.

The U.S. has dominated the series against El Salvador, with only a single blemish on the 13-1-4 lifetime record. The U.S. has been particularly imposing in World Cup Qualifying, posting an unbeaten 4-0-2 record. The teams last squared off in the semifinal phase of qualifying for Germany, the U.S. collecting a pair of 2-0 wins in Foxboro and San Salvador. El Salvador has been in it since the first round, pounding Anguilla by an aggregate score of 16-0 before getting past Panama in the second phase in a series that included an impressive 1-0 win in Panama City. Drawn with Costa Rica, Suriname and Haiti, the Salvadorans comfortably took second place in Group 3 while posting a 3-1-2 record.

The U.S. and Honduras have one of the more unusual histories between CONCACAF teams in qualifying. While they have played only four times, three of those matches took place in Honduras. The teams met in the final round of qualifying for Korea/Japan, the U.S. pulling off a 2-1 a win in San Pedro Sula on the strength of goals by Clint Mathis and Earnie Stewart. Then on Sept. 1, 2001, in Washington, D.C., a quick goal by Stewart looked promising for the U.S., but Honduras stormed back to a 3-2 win to hand the U.S. their last home loss in World Cup qualifying to date. Coincidentally, it was the Honduras home loss to Trinidad & Tobago coupled with the U.S. win against Jamaica on Oct. 7, 2001, that guaranteed the USA’s ticket to Korea.

Honduras had one of the hardest mountains to climb in qualifying and can proudly claim they reached the summit. The Catrachos were drawn into the most difficult of groups along with Mexico, Jamaica and Canada. After narrowly losing out away to Mexico in the opening game, Honduras reeled off three straight wins before falling to Jamaica in Kingston, setting up the dramatic final day. Needing a win to guarantee their place in the final round, the Hondurans pulled off a 1-0 shutout to vault past Mexico and claim first place in the group.

While Mexico holds a major lead in the all-time qualifying series, the U.S. has most certainly pulled even in the modern era. The United States has not lost at home to Mexico in a World Cup qualifier since 1972, and played two of their most memorable games in the previous two hexagonals. In the ‘Guerra Fria’ in Columbus on Feb. 28, 2001, goals by Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart lifted the U.S. to a 2-0 victory, a result that would be repeated a few times over. On Sept. 3, 2005, it was Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley’s turn to tally as another 2-0 victory booked the USA’s ticket to Germany. It’s been another story in Mexico, where the United States has never won (0-12-1), the lone draw coming Nov. 2, 1997, in Mexico City.

Playing their first three games of the Semifinal Round at home after hurricane damage forced Jamaica to switch their schedule, Mexico quickly grabbed nine points. After a loss to Jamaica away, the Mexicans were twice forced to come from behind to earn a point against already-eliminated Canada, setting up an intriguing final match day. They were leading the group on points, but a slip in Honduras combined with a big Jamaica victory could have seen them eliminated from competition. An own goal sank their efforts in the 1-0 loss in Honduras, and Jamaica nearly pulled off the miracle when they won 3-0 against Canada. Tied on points, it was Mexico who inched through to the final round on goal differential.

The U.S. holds a 14-2-3 lifetime record against Trinidad & Tobago, with the series dating back to 1982. The U.S. can also claim 10 shutouts against the Soca Warriors, with six of those coming on home turf. It has been more than 12 years since Trinidad & Tobago have scored during their travels to the U.S., with the last goal coming during a 3-2 loss in 1996 in Anaheim, Calif. The U.S. has owned the series in World Cup qualifying (9-1-2), although T&T will be buoyed by the 2-1 win on Oct. 15 in Port-of-Spain, their first-ever in qualifying against the United States. The teams met in the 2006 edition of final round qualifying; in fact, they met on the opening day of the group. Goals by Eddie Johnson and Eddie Lewis gave the U.S. a nice three points on the road to start the hexagonal, and then Brian McBride did the business in the 1-0 win on Aug. 17, 2005, in East Hartford.

Seeming to be battling Guatemala from the get-go for the second spot in the semifinal group, the teams shared the spoils by each earning a draw on the world. T&T capitalized on the penultimate matchday of the round, defeating the U.S. for the first time in World Cup qualifying history while Guatemala disastrously lost at Cuba. Already in the driver’s seat, the Soca Warriors ended all doubt by winning handily at home against the Cubans to move on to the final round.

The U.S. reached the Semifinal Round of qualifying after defeating Barbados by an aggregate score of 9-0 in the second round. The U.S. easily handled the visitors 9-0 on June 13 in Carson, Calif., the eight-goal win earning the record as the largest margin of victory ever in U.S. Men’s National Team history. The U.S. than fought through a rain-soaked field to win 1-0 at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, six days later.

Following is the complete Final Round schedule:


CONCACAF Final Round of 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule
Date Opponent Home / Away (Venue TBD)
Feb. 11 Mexico Home
March 28 El Salvador Away
April 1 Trinidad & Tobago Home
June 3 Costa Rica Away
June 6 Honduras Home
Aug. 12 Mexico Away
Sep. 5 El Salvador Home
Sep. 9 Trinidad & Tobago Away
Oct. 10 Honduras Away
Oct. 14 Costa Rica Home

Red Bulls Hold First Training Session In LA In Advance Of MLS Cup

New York and Columbus to meet on Sunday at The Home Depot Center

SECAUCUS, NJ (Friday, November 21, 2008) – The New York Red Bulls trained for the first time since arriving in California Friday in preparation of their first MLS CUP Finals appearance.

The team trained for an hour and half beginning at 11:00 AM PST and met with the media following the session. The full team trained under the direction of head coach Juan Carlos Osorio on a beautiful 80 degree day.

The team will train again on Saturday before taking on Supporters Shield Winners, the Columbus Crew, on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 3:30 pm EST at The Home Depot Center with the winner taking home the MLS Cup for the first time in franchise history.

The Red Bulls were the only MLS team to have a winning record vs. Columbus this season, with New York holding a 2-1-0 season series advantage. The Red Bulls defeated the Crew at Giants Stadium, 2-0, on April 5, and 3-1 on Oct. 18, but dropped a 3-1 decision at Crew Stadium on Sept. 18.

The Red Bulls will hold their official viewing party at Nevada Smiths, located on 3rd Avenue between 11th and 12th Steets in New York City. The viewing party for New York's Western Conference Championship win over Real Salt Lake, brought out a packed establishment, with the MLS Cup viewing party expected to draw an even larger crowd of Red Bulls supporters.

Game Information: Western Conference Champion New York Red Bulls (10-11-9, 39 pts) vs Eastern Conference Champion Columbus Crew (17-7-6, 57 pts)
Game Time: 3:30 p.m. ET at The Home Depot Center
Television: ABC, TeleFutura (JP Dellacamera, John Harkes)
Radio: WADO 1280 AM (Ernesto Motta, Robert Sierra)



Predictions?



Is Eddie right or do you see a different outcome? Have your say in our comments section.

USA To Play Sweden In January Friendly

U.S. To Kick Off Busy 2009 with Friendly in Southern California;Final Round World Cup Qualifying, Gold Cup, Confederations Cup on Tap

I've got to say I like the selection of teams the U.S. Soccer Federation is picking for friendlies these days and Sweden is a good example. Strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larssson (pictured to the right) will be a stiff test for the US defense, not to mention winger "Kongo" Kim Källström (Olympique Lyon) , who serves up beautiful crosses to the forwards and can take powerful and accurate shots from distance (he earned his nickname for knocking a teammate out cold with a shot during a practice at the 2006 World Cup).

The well-organized Swedes, always tough to score against, will test the US midfield and attack to the hilt. Their central defense including Carlos Bocanegra's partner at Rennes, Peter Hansson and Juventus' Olof Mellberg have proven tough to crack behind a strong spine of Anders Svensonn and holding midfielder Daniel Andersson. When you lose possession against this crew, its a real dogfight to get it back. All in all, a good test for a US National Team which has been a juggernaut in CONCACAF this year but with remaining questions about how well they'll compete against teams from Europe.

This match will give Bob Bradley a much clearer picture of where his team stands going into the next round of World Cup qualifying and next summer's Confederation's Cup.

The U.S. Men’s National Team will kick off a busy 2009 schedule when they face Sweden on Saturday, Jan. 24, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., at 5:30 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision. Fans can also follow the game live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.The game follows a training camp that begins the first week of January as the U.S. team prepares for CONCACAF Final Round qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the 2009
FIFA Confederations Cup.

Tickets ranging in price levels from $18 to $60, plus special edition U.S. Soccer on-field seats for $150, go on sale to the public Monday, Nov. 24, at 10 a.m. PT through ussoccer.com, by phone (213-480-3232 in L.A.; 714-740-2000 in Orange County; 619-220-8497 in San Diego), and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Southern California (including Macy’s, FYE and Ritmo Latino). Fans can also buy tickets at The Home Depot Center Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Groups of 20 or more can obtain an order form at ussoccer.com or call 312-528-1290.

As a sponsor of U.S. Soccer, Visa® is pleased to offer all Visa cardholders access to an advance ticket sale for this match before the sale to the general public. This advance sale will take place from Sunday, Nov. 23, at 8 a.m. PT until Monday, Nov. 24, at 8 a.m. at ussoccer.com. Visa will be the only payment method accepted through the Visa presale and is the preferred card of U.S. Soccer. Terms and conditions apply.

The U.S. will begin CONCACAF Final Round World Cup qualifying on Feb. 11, and along with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago will be vying for three automatic spots in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The fourth-place finisher will enter a home-and-away series with the fifth-place team from South America.

Sweden is also in the midst of FIFA World Cup qualifying, and after three matches is in fifth place in Group 1 despite an undefeated record that includes a win and two ties. Their campaign resumes on March 28, 2009, with a trip to Portugal. The Scandinavians have competed in 11 World Cup finals, highlighted by a second-place finish in the 1958 tournament and a third-place finish in USA ’94. In 2006, they advanced out of Group B along with England before falling in the Round of 16 to hosts Germany.

The USA and Sweden have met six times previously. The U.S. evened the series at 3-3-0 with a 2-0 victory last January in a game that saw Landon Donovan set the all-time U.S. scoring record. The U.S. is making its sixth visit to The Home Depot Center for a match, carrying a 4-0-1 record. Last year, in addition to the victory against Sweden, the U.S. trounced Barbados 8-0 on June 15 in their opening game of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The remainder of the U.S. schedule for 2009 will be determined this Saturday, Nov. 22, when the draw to determine the placement of teams in the CONCACAF Final Round hexagonal for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying will take place at 1 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Teams will learn their opponents as well as home and away dates for all 10 Final Round qualifiers that will determine the three automatic berths for CONCACAF in 2010 in South Africa. The Final Round will kick off on Feb. 11. The U.S. will also have games on March 28, April 1, June 3, June 6, August 12, Sept. 5, Sept. 9, Oct. 10 and Oct. 14.

Following the announcement of the CONCACAF Final Round draw, FIFA will conduct the draw for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that will be held from June 14-28 in South Africa. The United States will participate along with hosts South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, New Zealand and Spain.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bayern To Take Donovan On Loan

Bayern Munich has announced they will take the LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan on loan until the middle of March. Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann told the Munich press that "Landon made a good impression in the last ten days and we've agreed a deal with MLS for a loan starting on January 1st until the middle of March." Klinsmann did add however that the club is interested in hanging onto the California born forward until the end of the season since they need a fourth striker to fit into the scheme with Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni and Lukas Podolski.

"For me its a perfect setup. I can go into the second half of the season with four strikers." said Klinsmann. He went on to say; "With Landon. I have another top man in my back pocket and he'll travel with is to out training camp in Dubai on January 2nd."

Despite taking Donovan on loan, it looks like Bayern will keep the unhappy Podolski, at least until the end of the season. Remarking on the decision, Klinsmann stated that Podolski will "need to deal with it."

According to Klinsmann, what sold Bayern on Donovan was his speed (which he called "unbelievable")and strength in one-on-one situations. In the coach's words "He is completely different from our other strikers so this will make our attack harder to deal with."

What do you think? Will Donovan get meaningful playing time, ride the pine, or become a breakout star? Have your say here by leaving a comment or vote in the poll (to the left of this article).

*Special thanks to Germany based Vagabond Keith Richardson for contributing to this report.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Few Great Articles Worth Reading

Here are a few great articles worth reading today:

Bob Wagman's excellent preview of the USA-Guatemala World Cup Qualifier. Its hard to find many writers who have been covering the US National team (or even US soccer in general) for more years, both at home and on the road.

Rob Hughes, one of the best in the business, provides an insightful look into Bernd Schuster's lonely situation at Real Madrid.

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger has a great piece on German media coverage of the Bundesliga and in particular, its impact on Bayern Munich.

And while your humble vagabond did not make the finals for the US Soccer Federation's Best Blog competition (a big thanks to those who did nominate us), be sure to support our friends Du Nord and Soccer By Ives by voting here.

Uruguay Suspends League After Weekend Fan Violence

While Uruguay's national team takes on France tonight in an international friendly at the Stade Denis in Paris, their league's first division matches have been suspended by the Uruguayan Football Association due to fan violence over the weekend. An official statement from the federation stated that "The Executive Committee has decided to suspend, as a preventative measure, the activity in the professional first division until further notice."

The weekend the violence happened at the Jardines del Hipodromo stadium, in Montevideo, after home side Danubio topped Nacional 1-0. The win vaulted Danubio over Nacional for first place in the league and once the match was complete, enragged Nacional fans invaded the pitch and a melee ensued.

As you can see in the video below, fans from both sides were seen beating each other with iron bars and even the corner flags. Over 100 policemen were required to stop the violence, but no injuries or arrests were reported.

The last time such violence occurred in the Uruguayan top flight was in 2006, also in Montevideo, when a Cerro fan was stabbed to death in front of his family by rival Penarol supporters. It lead to a league suspension lasting several weeks.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bundesliga: Pearce Suspended For Two Matches

Hansa Rostock's American defender Heath Pearce has been suspended for two matches for a vicious 64th minute foul he committed against Sidney Sam during his team's 6:0 debacle against 1FC Kaiserslautern on Monday night.

Rostock came into the season with big plans to climb back to the First Bundesliga but now they'll be fighting to prevent relegation to the third division. The club fired coach Frank Pagelsdorf after a slow start and has not fared much better under caretaker Juri Schlünz. There was talk of Thomas Doll or Lothar Matthäus being hired but now it seems no one wants the job. Meanwhile, the Hansa board announced last week that they "have a clear profile of what type of coach we want."

Let's hope for Pearce's sake that they don't take too long in their profiling efforts, otherwise, they'll have a hard time living up to the club's current motto: "Unsinkable since 1965."

Pearce will miss the match against Greg Berhalter's 1860 Munich and the following week against FC Augusburg. His next chance to play in Second Bundesliga action will be December 8th against 1FC Nuernberg, the former team of Joe-Max Moore and Tony Sanneh.

During the same match, Kaiserslautern's American keeper Luis Robles kept a clean sheet in a solid 90 minute performance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BRADLEY NAMES 20-MAN ROSTER FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIER

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer Communications:

BRADLEY NAMES 20-MAN ROSTER TO PREPARE FOR FIFA WORLD CUP
QUALIFIER AGAINST GUATEMALA ON NOV. 19 IN COLORADO


Guatemala Faces Must-Win Situation in Order to Have a Chance to Advance to Final Round
Match To Be Broadcast Live on ESPN Classic and Galavision at 6 p.m. MT

CHICAGO (Nov. 16, 2008) — U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 20 players to train in advance of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala on Nov. 19 in Commerce City, Colo. Kickoff at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for the USA’s first-ever World Cup qualifier in the state of Colorado is set for 6 p.m. MT, and the match will be shown live on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.

“This match gives us an opportunity to test many of our players in what will be a very hard game,” said Bradley. “Guatemala will certainly be pressing for a victory, and we want to end this round on a positive note. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is one of the finest soccer facilities in the country, and we are looking forward to our first appearance there.”

Brian Ching leads a mostly domestic-based group, the Houston Dynamo forward having amassed four goals in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni is the leading capwinner on the roster, the two-time World Cup veteran having 61 international appearances to his credit. He is joined by Rapids teammates Conor Casey and Cory Gibbs, who are both making a return to the national team fold after long absences. Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan has made a career-high seven appearances for the full team this year, and is one of five players on the roster who represented the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan is one of five foreign-based players called into Colorado. The former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year has posted two shutouts in World Cup qualifying so far. Former U.S. Olympic team members Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu return after making starts in the USA’s previous World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago. Troy Perkins and Clarence Goodson, both of whom were part of the training camp in Commerce City last week, round out the European-based contingent.

Three players on the roster are in search of their first cap with the full team, including the 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year in Sean Franklin. He is one of three players on the roster to have earned that honor, along with fellow defenders Jonathan Bornstein and Michael Parkhurst.

In addition to Ching, there are two other players who finished in the top 10 in scoring in MLS this year. FC Dallas striker Kenny Cooper finished one behind Golden Boot winner Landon Donovan with 18 goals, while Chris Rolfe scored nine for the Eastern Conference finalists Chicago Fire.

The U.S. has locked up first place in Group 1 of the Semifinal Round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, holding 12 points from five matches. The other participant from the group to advance will be determined on the final matchday, as Trinidad & Tobago holds a three point lead over Guatemala. The Guatemalans will be pressing for a victory against the U.S. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, needing a win to keep their dreams of advancement alive. T&T will be hosting Cuba on the same day.

The draw to determine the placement of teams in the CONCACAF Final Round hexagonal for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying will take place on Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. local time in Johannesburg. Teams will learn their opponents as well as home and away dates for all 10 Final Round qualifiers that will determine the three automatic berths for CONCACAF in 2010 in South Africa. The United States, Costa Rica and El Salvador have already advanced to the Final Round, with the remaining three teams to be determined on Nov. 19 on the final matchday of the semifinal phase.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bocanegra and Rennes Top Adu's Monaco

Stade Rennais' Carlos Bocanegra went the full 90 and AS Monaco's Freddy Adu came on in the 69th minute in a 2-1 home win for Rennes. Bocanegra was among the match's most efficient players with 73% of his passes being successful. Adu had only a handful of touches in the late going but did manage to take a shot which went wide of the Rennes goal.

Monaco did well to maintain possession but continue to struggle to create dangerous scoring chances, producing only one shot on goal today. Their attack still seems static and without much creative flair.

The win put Rennes into 3rd place in Ligue 1 on 25 points while Monaco continue to struggle in 14th place with 16 points. Bocanegrea has established himself well as the mainstay of the Red and Blacks as they continue to pick up points at a respectable pace but are still five points shy of league leader Olympique Lyon.

Adu continues to struggle for minutes at Monaco, making it less likely the team will decide to take the buy option on his loan deal from Benfica. That said, the longer the team floats in the lower half of the table, the more pressure there will be on coach Ricardo Gomes to shake things up, especially in their lackluster midfield. Whether that shakeup leaves room for Adu remains to be seen.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bradley Header Saves Point for 'Gladbach

Michael Bradley's Borussia Moenchengladbach had a real challenge today in trying to claw out of the relegation zone facing powerhouse Bayern Munich. The visitors jumped on top early on a 21st minute Luca Toni goal for a 1:0 lead. A 45th minute Bradley header from a Marko Marin free kick, which could have tied the game for the Foals, just missed sending both teams to the locker room with Bayern up 1:0.

In the second half, Bradley managed to get off a quality shot during the 57th minute which was well stopped by Bayern keeper Michael Rensing. Four minutes later, Marin nearly got 'Gladbach on the board before Mark Van Bommel tracked back to deflect a shot from near the penalty spot.

In the 65th minute, Bayern's Franck Ribery was taken down in the area and awarded a penalty which the French midfielder lashed in for a 2:0 lead. For the next 12 minutes, the Foals looked out of gas but seemed to find their stride again in the 77th minute and took the ball to Bayern. A 78th minute corner from Marin was flicked on by Alex Baumjohann, then punched in by Rob Friend to put 'Gladbach on the board 2:1.

Not three minutes later Baumjohann send a gorgeous back-heel through to Roberto Colautti in the area where the Israeli international held well against Bayern defender Christian Lell before sending a soft crossing ball to an onrushing Bradley who headed it home to make it 2:2.

Bradley went the full 90 minutes and scored his first league goal of the season as he seems to be finding his stride under new coach Hans Meyer. This is good news for the Foals, who are now in 14th place on 11 points but still in a dogfight to get well clear of the relegation zone. They'll face their next challenge next week in Gelsenkirchen against FC Schalke 04.

After the game, Bradley told the local press: "The team worked well together to earn the point - we worked really hard. At the end, getting the tying goal was such a great feeling. Roberto fought hard and set it up perfectly. We never stopped running, working hard, and fighting for the ball for the whole 90 minutes. And it to play in the kind of great atmosphere we had today, that is why you play soccer."
Photo courtesy of Borussia.de

Check out Bradley's goal here:

Update: USA Loses Out On Subotic? Not So Fast!

Fox Sports is citing a Serbian news source indicating that Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic has decided to play for Serbia, not the USA. I'm skeptical of this report for a few reasons; first, if Subotic was going to make such an announcement, his club would be among the first to release the news (and BVB insiders tell us that Subotic has said nothing about any such decision). Secondly, similar reports have been floating around in the Serbian media for the past six months and none have turned out to be true. So, my spidey sense tells me its not a done deal.

Of course his father, Zeljko Subotic, told Goal.com last month that he would prefer his son played for the White Eagles when he said: "My heart tells me that Neven should decide on Serbia...for me, I would get much satisfaction out of seeing him playing in a Serbian jersey.” Despite his father's wishes, which must weigh heavily on the young superstar's mind, there is still no official announcement from Subotic, his club, nor the Serbian football association.

If this rumor turns out to be true, US fans will surely be sad to see yet another promising national team player get away. That said, this fan understands that Subotic may choose to honor his family over his adopted homeland. If given the choice, what would you do?

In any case, LFV would love to see Subotic in USA jersey but if he chooses Serbia, we wish him the best. Meanwhile, Subotic just scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in Dortmund's 4-0 romp over Eintracht Frankfurt this afternoon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marseille: Renewed Interest in Onyewu?

Back in January 2007, Olympique Marseille offered Standard Liege's Oguchi Onyewu a three-year deal which he spurned in favor of a six-month loan to Newcastle United. Gooch's roll of the dice did not work out as the Tyneside club decided not to acquire him so he ended back at Standard where he has helped the club win a championship and make some noise in European competition. This past summer, Paris Saint-Germain had taken an interest in Onyewu after the premature retirement of Lillian Thuram but no deal was made.

Now Ouest-France is reporting that Marseille is once again interested in acquiring Onyewu during the January transfer window. They are also looking at Glasgow Rangers' Madjid Bougherra Lille's Adil Rami, and Anderlecht's Roland Juhasz. They may also be looking at Marcos Angeleri of Argentine side Estudiantes. While Onyewu is reportedly still primarily interested in a transfer to England, there seems to be continued interest in him in France.

Others, like longtime expat soccer observer Keith Richardson (who is also the English translator for Borussia Dortmund's web site) would like to see Gooch playing in Dortmund alongside Neven Subotic in central defense. In this scenario, if Subotic decides to play for the USA, the USA's twin tower central defense would be playing together every week in the Bundesliga - not a bad thing for USA fans.

The question for many of these clubs is whether to acquire Gooch in January or to wait until next summer and get him on a free transfer.

Donovan in Munich: What Happens Next?

After a few days of training with Bayern Munich this week, the LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan seems to have made a believer out of Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness who after watching him in practice told the Rheinischer Post "He can play."

But even though Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann was already sold on the 26 year-old American and Hoeness now appears to be a believer, its still not clear if a deal will be in the offing. The question is not whether Donovan can contribute to the team, its whether he is a better option than Zenith's Andrey Arshavin, Stuttgart's Mario Gomez, or Fiorientina's Adrian Mutu - all in the running to replace the soon-exiting Lukas Podolski.

The German press are calling a move for Donovan "risky" and are having a field day picking through his background with one (Rheinisher Post) even downplaying his recent 20 goal season by saying "...but the American soccer league is only at the level of third division football in Germany." But even Donovan had to offer his own blunt assessment of MLS when he told the Sueddeutsche Zeiting: "On each team, there are at most 3 players that could hold their own in the Bundesliga and Bayern would easily win the championship." He also told Spox.com that "All players in the Bundesliga are better than in the USA, from number one to number 22...many in the USA can't play proper soccer."

Another newspaper, Munich's TZ , asked the question with its headline "Are You Good Enough For Bayern Mr. Donovan?" A few even think he can be purchased from MLS for around five million euros ($7 million) which would make him a cheaper option than Arshavin, Gomez, or Mutu - provided he can deliver the goods. This kind of press may not make it easy to explain if FC Hollywood signs this player from the real Hollywood and would put Donovan under a microscope from the beginning if he is signed.

But neither Klinsmann nor Hoeness are the type to make their decisions based on press clippings and both have no issues taking risks, especially Klinsmann. A decision is expected by the time his "guest training" ends next week and it could even be a loan until March, something Donovan did not rule out in an interview with Spox.com. When asked yesterday by the press if he thought he was ready to play for Bayern, Donovan answered in clear German " Ich bin bereit." (I'm ready)

Israeli Soccer Coach Fired Via Text Message


The business side of the beautiful game can be pretty ugly but this one takes the cake.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Ruud Interuption

Real Madrid hit man Ruud van Nistelrooy will miss the rest of the Primera season after undergoing knee surgery in the US yesterday.

The Dutchman had injured an exterior meniscus in Champions League match against Juventus last month but had seemingly recovered and was playing again until last week. As luck would have it, it was in another Champions League match when he could play nine minutes after the pulsating pain returned to his knee.

Like just about every top athlete facing an injury requiring surgery, he was sent to Colorado to see Dr. Richard Steadman, who had operated on Van Nistelroy before in 2000 during his PSV Eindhoven days. This time around, while performing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Steadman found a partial break of Van Nistelrooy's kneecap plus further damage to his ACL and cartilage. Instead of a quick 'scope and recovery, the Real Madrid ace is looking at a six to nine month recovery time - missing the rest of the season.

This news comes at a critical time for the defending Spanish champions, who are currently fourth in the league and just crashed out of the Copa Del Rey on Tuesday, losing to lowly Real Union on away goals. They are already missing winger Arjen Robben, out for six weeks with with a torn muscle, as well as holding midfielder Mahamadou Diarra - out for the next two weeks. Coach Bernd Schuster, already under pressure for the team not meeting the board's high expectations, will be under even greater pressure in the coming weeks.

Reserve team forward Alberto Bueno looks likely to step up to the first team until the end of December but Real will likely look for a striker in the January transfer window. They seem to have their eyes on Manchester United's Carlos Tevez, which may prove to be a bridge too far since the Reds are in their own Premiership dogfight and can't spare the talent.

At the same time, this news comes hot on the heels of Jose Mourinho's house cleaning announcement at Inter so either Hernan Crespo or Adriano could find themselves with a chance at the Bernabeau.

Mourinho Starts House Cleaning At Inter

Its just eleven weeks into the Serie A season and league leaders Inter Milan are already to clean house. Jose Mourinho's side is one of eight teams within striking distance of the top spot in what is so far one of the most competitive Scudetto races in many years.

While there has been recent talk of Argentine striker Julio Cruz wanting to leave in January, last night Mourinho announced four players he wants to put on the auction block as well; strikers Hernan Crespo and Ribeiro Adriano, and midfielders Luis Jimenez and Oliver Dacourt. All four have been either injury plagued or have fallen out of favor with the Inter boss over the course of the young season. While Mourinho still seems to be pining for Chelsea's red hot Florent Malouda, it appears the special one is looking at nothing short of a complete overhaul of his team's attacking options.

Lazio had sought the services of Crespo last summer and may still be interested in January. That said, Major League Soccer should give serious consideration to signing the 33 year-old Argentine. If not Crespo, then Adriano (who would otherwise be heading back to a Brazilian club) may be a viable option for MLS.

It also appears that central defender Walter Samuel, who has been out for months with a knee injury, may also have a tough time working his way back into the fold. If Samuel ends up on the departure list for January, I've still got to wonder if Mourinho may have his eye on Standard Liege's American defender Oguchi Onyewu. He was sold on Gooch during his last season at Chelsea, when he asked the board to acquire him so its not too much of a stretch given that Mourinho tends to go after the same players, regardless of where he is coaching. Gooch has reportedly been focused on a move to England but if interest came from a big club like Inter, you just never know.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Extra Callups To US Camp?

Has US coach Bob Bradley decided to callup a few more players in addition to the 19 US and Norway based ones announced earlier this week?

Word on the street in Monaco is that Freddy Adu may have headed to Colorado to join the US camp. Is the rumor true? We'll find out soon enough.

Pablo Stays Home

Instead of trying his luck in Italian soccer, something he has been exploring for some time, Colorado Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni has decided to stay on in Denver. He had been previously linked to Serie A side Cagliari plus a handful of Serie B teams before deciding to stay with his current club. His decision seems in part to do with the signing of interim coach Gary Smith to a three year deal.

Mastroeni told newspaper reporters: "I can honestly say it wasn't a hard decision for me," after confirming he signed a four-year deal. "The last few months of the season, with Gary at the helm, I think completely changed my mind about where I wanted to be (and) where my heart was."

So, instead of adding a fifth American player to Italian soccer, it looks we'll stick with four this season.

Photo courtsey of MLSNET

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Donovan Training With Bayern Munich

Today at Bayern Munich's 3 PM practice, a new face showed up alongside coach Juergen Klinsmann, a face familiar to many American fans. Yep, that's right, the LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan is in Munich to train with Bayern for a weeek or two to "stay fit." Hmmm.

Could Donovan, who last left Bayer Leverkusen in 2005 after playing in seven league and two Champion's League matches, be looking for for a ticket back to European soccer? Donovan's own web site seems to indicate so when he says “I am pleased that Jürgen Klinsmann and Bayern are giving me this chance to get to know their new performance center and stay fit alongside their great international footballers.”


Kicker speculates that Donovan could fit well into the formation behind Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose, especially if Lukas Podolksi makes a possible mid-season move elsewhere. The question is not so much whether Klinsmann thinks Donovan is ready (by all accounts he does), but whether Donovan can prove his worth to club boss Uli Hoeness who must approve any deal (be it a loan or an outright purchase). My guess is that is exactly why Donovan is training in Munich this week.

Hoeness has made it clear that Podolski isn't going anywhere unless a suitable replacement is found. For many observers, that replacement appeared to be Zenith's Russian phenom Andrei Arshavin but if Donovan can prove he has the goods (and is available now), it may just be doable.

Stay tuned because if this is like any of Donovan's previous transfer sagas, it will get quite interesting.

US: BRADLEY NAMES 19 PLAYERS FOR TRAINING CAMP IN COLORADO


Courtesy of US Soccer Communications:

BRADLEY NAMES 19 PLAYERS FORDOMESTIC TRAINING CAMP IN COLORADO

Group to Train in Commerce City From Nov. 12-15;U.S. Will Name Training Camp Roster for2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Against Guatemala on Nov. 16

CHICAGO (Nov. 11, 2008) — U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley has selected 19 players for a four-day training camp from Nov. 12-16 in Colorado. The group is comprised of MLS players who have completed the 2008 MLS season, as well as Norway-based goalkeeper Troy Perkins and defender Clarence Goodson.

Following the completion of the camp and the next round of club matches, Bradley will announce the roster that will train in advance of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Guatemala that is scheduled for Nov. 19 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (tickets). Kickoff for the USA’s first-ever World Cup qualifier in Colorado is set for 6 p.m. MT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

The U.S. has locked up first place in Group 1 of the Semifinal Round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, holding 12 points from five matches. The other participant from the group to advance will be determined on the final matchday, as Trinidad & Tobago holds a three point lead over Guatemala. The Guatemalans will be pressing for a victory against the U.S. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, needing a win to keep their dreams of advancement alive. T&T will be hosting Cuba on the same day.

U.S. Men's National Team Training Camp Roster
Commerce City, Colo
Nov. 12-15

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brian Edwards (Toronto FC), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract)

DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Nick LaBrocca (Colorado Rapids), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)

FORWARDS (5): Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Chad Barrett (Toronto FC), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas)

A detailed roster is available at ussoccer.com

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bremen Fans Show Europe How Its Done

Toward the end of Werder Bremen's 0-0 draw with Bochum on Saturday, six members of a neo-Nazi group began to unfurl a 10-foot long banner on which it stated: "NS-HB Sport frei". NS-HB stood for Nordsturm Hansestadt Bremen, an extreme right hooligan group. But Bremen fans were having none of it and began to go after the neo-Nazis, surrounding them while shouting "Nazis out!" and pointing them out to the police.

Dieter Zeiffer, Werder Bremen's director of fan relations, was a man in demand this weekend, giving television interviews gushing with pride at the reaction of the home fans. But how the neo-Nazi hooligans (one of which is suspected of starting a January 2007 melee in the same stadium) managed to sneak such a sign into the stdaium remains unknown.

It turned out to be an act German Football Association (DFB) predident Theo Zwanziger referred to as ''civil courage,'' something all too lacking in many European stadiums today. According to the Werder Nachtrichten, some unhappy Bremen and Bochum fans wanted to let their fists do the talking with the hooligans but local police intervened quickly.

"The police had to get between them, otherwise the fans would have attacked the hooligans," said Ziffer. He went on to say that the police already had been watching the group during the match, given they were wearing what seemed to be skinhead garb. The club has now banned the Nordsturm group and its members from the stadium and a league-wide ban could be in the offing.

Instead of watching timidly while an extremist group tried to use their stadium as a billboard for hate, Werder Bremen fans took action to defend their (and their league's) honor. Bravo!

Pearce's Rostock Coach Fired

Like a few other American players this past weekend, Hansa Rostock defender Heath Pearce had to watch from the bench as his team drew a home match with VFL Osnabruck 2-2 in Second Bundesliga play. The Hansa board and fans, after years spent in the First Bundesliga expected to be further along by now in their quest for promotion back to the top flight, not languishing in 12th place with only three wins in 12 matches.

So, this morning Hansa fired coach rank Pagelsdorf and will look to start anew. The 50 year-old former HSV coach was let go at a press conference this morning in Rostock and according to Kicker, Thomas Doll is ready to step in and take over. Doll, a longtime Hansa player back in the 1980s, is seen as a caretaker rather than a long-term solution given his spotty coaching record.

Pagelsdorf is the third coach to be fired in the Second Bundesliga so far this year, following Thomas von Heesen at 1. FC Nürnberg and Rudi Bommer at MSV Duisburg.

So, what does this mean for Pearce? Pagelsdorf was the coach who brought him on so he'll need to work even more to prove himself to Doll. That said, recent national team call ups have left Pearce out of the side and he appears to be having a tougher time getting reintegrated. Thus, a fresh start may give Pearce a chance to step up and reclaim his starting position at left back.

Doll has a reputation for being hard-headed coach and not much of a tactician - his substitution decisions at Dortmund last year left many observers scratching their heads. He is capable of motivating some (but not all) of his players but he always gives everyone a chance. One thing with Doll, if you get in his doghouse, there is no coming out. For Pearce, the trick will be to make sure he never gets in there in the first place.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Follow Onyewu and Standard vs Beerschot: Live Ticker

Brush up on your high school French and follow along with Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege as they visit Beerschot tonight in Jupiler League play. The match starts in 10 minutes (at 8:30 PM CET) here. Need translation help? No problem.

UPDATE: IT LOOKS LIKE GOOCH IS NOT PLAYING TONIGHT.

Elsewhere in the French-speaking world today, Carlos Bocanegra went the full 90 as Stade Rennais pounded three goals past Saint Etienne for a 3-0 win today at Stade Geoffroy Guichard. The win elevated Rennes to 4th place in Ligue 1 with 22 points.

This week Rennes faces Havre AC in a midweek French Cup match before hosting Freddy Adu's AS Monaco side next weekend. Last night, with Adu watching from the bench, Monaco fell to league leader Olympique Lyon 1-0 on a 5th minute goal from Fred.