Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Diego!

Perhaps it is fitting that on Diego Maradona's 48th birthday, his old club Napoli (which he led to two Serie A titles) is currently second in the Italian top flight, only behind Udinese on goal differential. At the same time the Argentina legend, who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title, has also been named the new national team coach.

He remains beloved in this city by the sea where the locals will tell you that he, not Pele', is the greatest player of all. Whether the once great player is up to the task of guiding his team to glory at the 2010 World Cup remains to be seen, given his colorful and turbulent past off the pitch.

Franz Beckenbauer, who has been succesful as both player and coach seems skeptical, telling "Maybe this comes in time for Maradona so he can find a break from his turbulent lifestyle. Managing the team is completely different to playing in it. You have to be more responsible. The lifestyle is also important but Maradona's life hasn't really been tranquil by any means over the years. In any case I am happy for him and I am looking forward to meeting him when he comes here to see Di Michelis."

Perhaps Fiorentina's Alberto Gilardino was just giving a salute to Maradona last weekend when he did his best "Hand of God" imitation against Palermo. The goal counted but later led to a two-game suspension. Watch it here:

Of course Maradona's original version to beat England's Peter Shilton in Mexico City at the 1986 World Cup counted and led not to a suspension, but to a championship:

Still, one thing Maradona will command from the players immediately is respect, given his long list of accomplishments and his enduring touch on the ball (even at 48). The question is whether he can manage the side through qualification and to take Argentina to where they feel they rightfully belong (given their quality and pedigree); the World Cup final match.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Disney/ESPN To Buy Bundesliga Broadcast Rights?

An interesting development...

While it could be tricky to work out within Germany, a succesful bid by Disney could make Bundesliga matches much more accesible to American audiences on ESPN.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beckham Loan To Milan: Find A Comfy Spot On The Bench

OK, so the LA Galaxy will loan David Beckham to AC Milan so he can stay fit for duty with England's team as they aim for World Cup qualification. After watching him spend so much time wither injured or back in England, I'll be the Galaxy management are glad that Silvio Berlusconi will be picking up his salary tab for a few months.

Still, its hard to see where Becks would fit into a Milan scheme except on the bench. They prefer to play in a 4-3-2-1 formation, letting Kaka and Ronaldinho run off a lone striker such as Andrei Shevchenko. The only way Becks breaks into this lineup would if he bumped Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo or Massimo Ambrosini - I'm just not seeing it.

Look for Beckham to play the role of super-sub while helping the club to sell millions of new AC Milan jerseys, all the while trying to keep himself in England manager Fabio Capello's good graces. Let's just hope that when he returns to LA next spring, he shows up ready to play.

FIFA: Subotic Can't Play For Germany

Borussia Dortmund's 19 year-old Yugoslavian-born American defender Neven Subotic has been ruled ineligible to play for Germany by FIFA. German coach Joachim Loew took interest in Subotic after his explosion onto the Bundesliga scene this fall in a series of outstanding performances for BVB. So, instead of trying to grab another player through naturalization, Germany will need to look elsewhere for a new central defender.

The basis of the decision is that in 2005, Subotic had played in a U-17 match for the USA. So, after first participating in an international competition, he is ineligible to play only for countries of which he was already a citizen; Serbia or the USA (or possibly Bosnia). Once he plays in a full international match for one of these three countries, he is only eligible to play for them for the rest of his career.

So, will Subotic decide to line up alongside Oguchi Onyewu in central defense for the Stars and Stripes who appear to be cruising toward World Cup Qualification? Will Bob Bradley call him in for the USA's next World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on November 19th?

Or, will he decide to cast his lot with the White Eagles, currently in a 4-way tie for second in a tough qualifying group which includes France, Romania, Austria, and current group leader Lithuania? We may find out soon if coach Radomir Antic calls him in for the November 19th friendly against Bulgaria.

Or, will he spurn both and suit up for Bosnia-Herzegovina, currently third in their qualifying group behind Turkey and Belgium? Whichever team he plays for, Subotic has proven that he can be an impact player right away.

Standard Wants To Keep Gooch Beyond 2009

Standard Liege's American defender Oguchi Onyewu is out of contract in June 2009 and he has already expressed a desire to move to a bigger challenge. After the summer 2008 transfer season passed without an expected transfer, Onyewu ended up staying on at Liege.

While most observers figure Gooch will be sold during the January 2009 transfer window, word out of the Standard camp is that they still want to extend his contract beyond 2009. While its not clear which clubs (most likely in France) are interested in a mid-season transfer, its doubtful Liege will be able to offer a competitive pay package unless they pick up a new sponsor. Only time will tell.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bradley Goes Distance As Gladbach Draws Bochum 2-2

Borussia Moenchengladbach are still searching for their winning ways but at least managed to get a point this week against VFL Bochum in a 2-2 draw. Gladbach's American midfielder Michael Bradley played the full 90 minutes in a 4-4-2 system, providing the pass which led to his team's first goal.

Szetela Scores Winner For Brescia

American midfielder Danny Szetela scored his first goal of the Serie B season in a 3-2 Brescia win over Triestina. Szetela's scored the winner in the 82nd minute when Triestina's keeper Michael Aggazzi's poor clearance fell to an onrushing Szetela, enabling him to blast a shot home to make it 3-2.

The much needed win, only Brescia's third of the season, moved Szetela's club into 9th place with 13 points. Next week Szetela and Brescia will be looking to collect three points as they travel to lowly Modena which is hovering just above the relegation zone with five points after nine matches.

Elsewhere, Freddy Adu played 11 substitute minutes for Monaco after the team was already down 2-1, a score which stood until the final whistle. Carlos Bocanegra and Stade Rennais take on Auxerre in a Sunday afternoon match.

*The goal was also Szetela's first ever goal for Brescia since joining the club last year.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Analysis: US Loss to Soca Warriors

Your faithful vagabond is under the weather this week so we'll turn it over (one more time) to our friend Bob Wagman. See his analysis of the USA-Trinidad and Tobago match here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

USA Over Cuba 6-1

My internet has been down for a few days so I'll send you over to my friend Bob Wagman's excellent wrapup of Saturday's US match against Cuba. Check it out here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bradley's 'Gladbach Coach Fired After Slow Start

Newly signed American midfielder Michael Bradley, who is still adjusting to a new team situation will soon need to adjust to a new coach. Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Jos Luhukay was fired today after a lackluster start to the Bundesliga season, topped by a 2-1 loss to 1FC Cologne yesterday, a match which featured numerous brawls beteeen opposing fans. Bradley was on the bench but did not play.

The Dutchman Luhukay was sent packing with the Foals dead last in the Bundesliga with three points and a minus nine goal differential after only seven matches. He was of course the coach that brought them back to the Bundesliga this year but he did not appear of to the task of coaching successfully at the next level.

Many saw it coming as Luhukay tinkered with the system each week, trying 23 different players in the lineup and leaving the team confused and unorganized. You've also got to wonder if leaving the new signing Bradley (who scored 15 in the Eredivisie last year) on the bench made the decision that much easier for the club's management.

Sports director Christian Ziege will take over the reins until a new coach can be found. Luckily for Bradley, Ziege was sold on him from the start so his place should be secure. The big question at 'Gladbach is whether they can turn it around and stay up in the Bundesliga. It seems to me that they would do well to pry loose American Oguchi Onyewu from nearby Liege at mid season to help them solidify a shaky defense. We'll see.

Bocanegra and Rennes Crush Lyon

Going the full 90 in central defense, Carlos Bocanegra and his Stade Rennais teammates shocked the French league tonight topping almighty Lyon 3-0. Mickaël Pagis scored a hat trick for the home side to hand Lyon their first loss of the season.

Meanwhile, Freddy Adu watched from the bench as his Monaco side dropped a 2-0 decision to Saint Etienne.

Barcelona: They're Ba-aaack!

After a few lackluster rebuilding years, Barcelona threw down a marker yesterday to prove they are once again a team able to win the Primera championship. Scoring five goals in the first 28 minutes, they demolished Atletico Madrid 6-1 at Nou Camp last night.

Goal scorers were Rafa Marquez, Sammy Eto'o (with two), Lionel Messi, Eidur Gudjohnsen, and Thierry Henry.

Watch them all here:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Missing Five Starters, Brescia Tops Frosinone

Playing without a slightly injured Danny Szetela along with four other starters, Brescia topped a feisty Frosinone side 2-1 this afternoon in a rainy Serie B matchup. Brescia defender Marco Gorzengo seems to have recovered well from a calf injury, scoring both Brescia goals to put them at 13 points and fifth place in the league, within striking distance of a promotion spot (for now).

Szetela will now be packing his bags for a trip to Washington DC for a World Cup qualifier on October 11th against Cuba.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bradley Selects US Team For WC Qualifier Against Cuba

Courtesy of the USSF:

U.S. Can Clinch Spot in Final Round with Victory on Oct. 11 at RFK Stadium
Match to be Broadcast Live on ESPN Classic and Galavision

CHICAGO (Oct. 3, 2008) — U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 23 players that will train in advance of the FIFA World Cup Qualifying game against Cuba on Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Kickoff for the USA’s first match in the nation’s capital in four years is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be shown live on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on's MatchTracker.

Currently leading Group 1 with nine points from three matches, the U.S. can clinch a place in the final round of qualifying with a victory against Cuba at RFK Stadium. The team will begin gathering on Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C., in preparation for the match. Following the game and the weekend MLS matches, Bradley will announce the travel roster for the qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago, which takes place Oct. 15 at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. That match can be seen live on ESPN and Galavision at 8 p.m. ET.

Fourteen leagues from 12 different countries are represented on the roster as the U.S. seeks to extend their five-match shutout streak in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Each of the starters from the last two victories against Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago return, led up front by Fulham striker Clint Dempsey, who has already amassed four goals in the four World Cup qualifiers he has played this year, including the lone goal in the USA’s 1-0 win on Sept. 6 in Cuba. Houston Dynamo forward Bring Ching has three goals to his credit in the current campaign.

At the other end of the park, the defense is backstopped by goalkeeper Tim Howard, the Sierra Mist Man of the Match against Guatemala, who has posted an impressive six shutouts in five all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra anchors a backline that has not conceded a goal in a team record six straight matches, dating back to the 0-0 draw against Argentina on June 8 in New Jersey.

Landon Donovan, who became the fourth youngest male player in history to reach 100 caps when he went 90 minutes on June 8 against Argentina, leads the roster with 24 all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. His eight career goals in World Cup qualifying are also a team best. Meantime, midfielder Michael Bradley and Heath Pearce are the only two U.S. players to start all five of the World Cup qualifiers in 2008.

A total of nine players from the 2008 Olympic Games link up with the full team, with eight of those players plying their trade overseas. Bradley, who scored the game-winning goal in the 3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago while also earning Sierra Man of the Match honors, leads the full team in minutes played in 2008. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan scored two goals in China, while Maurice Edu, recently transferred to Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League, played all three games in the U.S. backline. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan returns to the fold having collected consecutive shutouts against Barbados in the second round series, while Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore wear the U.S. colors for the first time since Beijing. Michael Orozco, one of three uncapped players on the roster, is joined by fellow Mexican Primera Division midfielder José Francisco Torres. The Longview, Texas, native is making his first appearance in a U.S. national team camp.

RFK Stadium is no stranger to the U.S. National Team, having hosted 17 matches since 1977. The U.S. has collected a 10-3-4 record in the nation’s capital, including a 3-1-1 record in World Cup qualifying. With an average attendance of over 30,000, Washington, D.C., has witnessed several memorable matches, including a 4-0 victory against Mexico in 1995 and a 1-0 win against Argentina in 1999. RFK last hosted the U.S. men on Oct. 13, 2004, when an Eddie Johnson hat trick paced the United States to a 6-0 victory against Panama to close out the semifinal phase of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

(A Detailed Roster is Available at
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 2/2 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 6/5 SO), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF: 0/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 16/2), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland: 2/0), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96: 17/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC: 1/0), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 13/1), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 11/0), Michael Orozco (San Luis: 0/0), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 5/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco: 1/0), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers: 19/4), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach: 5/2), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers: 3/0), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 3/0), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 0/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal C.F.: 0/0), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 9/4), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF: 0/0) Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC: 11/4), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 24/8)
*numbers indicate all-time World Cup Qualifying caps/goals

Quick Hits:

-Adu needs to stay at Monaco so he can work his way into the starting lineup - they can easily win without him.
-Dempsey needs the playing time, let's see if he has been able to stay sharp.'s to hoping we see more disciplined play than we saw in the Olympics, assuming he is even capable of playing ahead of Pearce (doubtful).
-Szetela...US fans will be pleasantly surprised to see a more polished version of him this year.
- Ching...needs to produce a goal or two, otherwise he'll soon be dropped like a hot potato.