Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sustainable Christmas Gifts

The upsurge in generosity and the feelings of goodwill, demonstrated in traditional Christmas fashion, may lay a devastating burden upon our environment. Christmas packaging alone creates an additional 1 million tons of waste per week between Thanksgiving and New Years. Not to mention the short life-cycle gifts of toys, of which one UK report places at more than 40% tossed in landfills within three months. Americans spent 66 billion dollars on Christmas in 2007, and even with the current economic crisis, Americans will still spend precious resources on gifts.

According to Joel Waldfogel, author of “Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays”, most sentimental gift giving produces inefficient, unsatisfying and declining values. While I won’t discourage the spirit of benevolence, it is certainly time for thoughtful and intentional gift giving of sustainable proportions.

Some gifts that are more economically sustainable, and gentle with our earth, include hand-made, local products and services (including your very own!) These can include everything from unique pieces of art by local artisans to handmade soaps and lotions and can include gifts of time, such as volunteering with a SHARE program, or something requiring a more personal investment, such as attending the dying through hospice care, or working with a Special Olympian.

Far and away, our gifts can be the high value, low impact, and soul-satisfying demonstration of charity we intended toward our fellow man, through thoughtful choices which enrich and sustain life.

Here’s one creative gift to fight pollution and climate change... Posted last year, this little quip provides a gift solution certain to make a difference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome To The Karma Cafe!

I’ve often thought about opening a cafe where everyone would be treated the way they treat people in their everyday lives. If you are kind and compassionate, the service and food would be fantastic. If you are normally mean and cranky, your experience may not be so great. I’d call it the Karma Cafe (besides, Reciprocation Bar and Grill just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well).

Of course figuring out how to treat everyone at the Karma Cafe would be difficult so we would need to take shortcuts, like asking what industry they work in, etc. The experience would go something like this:

Click here to read the rest.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Come On Milan: Its Not Like You Were Playing Him!

So now AC Milan wants to sue the US Soccer Federation for Oguchi Onyewu's knee injury picked up in the USA's 2-2 draw with Costa Rica. It now looks like he won't be recovered and match fit for at least six months.

Well gee Milan, since you've barely used him since bringing him to the team, was there some secret plan to start actually letting him play that we didn't know about?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You Call This News?

Gotta love some of the headlines these days which tell us things we already know:

"Eating Twinkies All Day Makes Kids Fat"

"Texting While Driving Can Increase The Chance of Auto Accidents"

and now this one:

"Political scientists report drop in US world standing"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

So, What Do You Do?

Just had my first article posted over at the Elephant Journal and here it is: So, What Do You Do?





Hope you can relate to this one!


Ciao,

Chris

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Heath Pearce Lands In.............Turkey!

American international Heath Pearce has signed for Turkish First Division side Bursaspor (just south of Istanbul).

The Gators are currently in fifth place on seven points after the first four matches of the season.


For more details, check out LFV pal Greg Seltzer's report over on his blog No Short Corners.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Team India Holds Onto The Nehru Cup

Courtesy of FIFA:

India goalkeeper Subrata Paul was the hero as the host nation held their nerve to retain the Nehru Cup winning 5-4 on penalties against Syria at New Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium on Monday.

Despite losing to Lebanon by a solitary goal in the opener, India bounced back to reach the final of the five-nation tournament with wins over Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, it was Syria that went into the tournament decider with an unblemished record that including a solitary-goal victory over the hosts two days prior.

Second-time around proved a different story altogether. Following a goalless 90 minutes, the hosts went ahead eight minutes into the second period of extra time, with Renedy Singh curling in a well-taken free-kick. Despite the agony of conceding so late, the Syrians showed impressive resolve to equalise as Ali Diab headed home a minute from time to force the penalty shoot-out.

Having excelled throughout the campaign, India's young custodian Paul went on to produce some of the tournaments finest saves when his country needed him most. Although Renedy missed the target and Mehrajuddin Wadoo's shot was saved, the 22-year-old bravely denied Wael Ayan and Ahmad Haj Mohamad, and after Irungbam Surkumar put India ahead, Paul kept his cool to save from Hamzeh Al Attounim to seal India's dramatic triumph.

Houghton hails progressPaul's sublime display didn't go unappreciated by India coach Bob Houghton, who was quick to acknowledge the talent displayed by his goalkeeper. "Again Subrata was brilliant for us and he had an outstanding tournament," said the former China and Uzbekistan boss who assumed the reigns of the world's second most populace nation in 2006.
Under the Englishman, India made history two years ago when they ran out 1-0 winners over Syria to lift the Nehru Cup trophy as hosts for the first time since the tournament's inception in 1982. Boosted by the ground-breaking success, India went on to claim arguably their greatest success to date by winning last year's AFC Challenge Cup, thus booking their place in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.

"The team has played together for the last three years and they are a matured group now," Houghton stated after the Nehru Cup final. "They play for each other and give everything for the team. Even after conceding the late equaliser and missing two spot kicks, the team came back."

Winning a hat-trick of titles in his three years in charge has provided Houghton and his charges with a timely boost in the build-up to India's first appearance in the AFC Asian Cup since 1984. "We still have our work cut out if we are to do well in the Asian Cup. We will plan to play some good matches to keep the team in good shape."

Like India, Syria also showed impressive form throughout the tournament and despite the second near-miss against the hosts, they showed they are truly a side to be reckoned with.
Under the guidance of Fajer Ebrahim, Syria began brightly with a 2-0 win against Kyrgyzstan. They went on to defeat Sri Lanka 4-0, edging Lebanon 1-0 to book their place in the final, before beating the hosts in the final group match, albeit with the result academic.

"We were unlucky to lose the game as we had created so many chances," said Ebrahim, whose side is seeking to qualify for Qatar 2011 from a group which also features Lebanon, China and Vietnam. "I hope the experiences gained and lessons learned from this campaign will benefit us in the forthcoming Asian Cup qualifiers."


A special thanks to our LFV readers in India - Jai!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Save Of The Day: Julio Sergio, Man Of The Day: Diego

While Roma got shelled today 3-1 by Juventus, exposing its enduring weakness on the defensive end, newby keeper Julio Sergio did provide a moment of brilliance for the giallorossi.

Check out his brilliant save at the 9 second mark on the video. After that, check out Juve's Diego channeling Maradona (with a brief intermission by Roma's Daniel De Rossi with a gorgeous long range shot). After three years in the wilderness of Italian football, there's only one thing to say for Juventus; they're ba-ack!




And not to be outdone, Valencia's Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez put on a show of their own in downing Sevilla 2-0.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Noel Gallagher Leaving Oasis

Please observe a moment of silence for that fine band of City fans from Manchester; Oasis. It looks like they'll be splitting up now that guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher will be leaving the band since he can no longer work with his brother, Liam.

Noel wrote on the band's website: “It’s with some sadness and great relief to tell you I quit Oasis tonight. I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”

According to various reports, Noel walked just before the band was due to headline at Paris’s Rock en Seine festival after he and Liam got into a fistfight.

Singer Amy Macdonald reported on her Twitter page that the brothers had exchanged blows backstage, writing: “Liam smashed Noel’s guitar, huuuge fight!”


Is this just a temporary bust-up or will it be for good? My spidey sense tells me if they ever get back together, it won't be for a long time.

So until then, here are their top three songs as ranked by their own countrymen in a recent poll:

Live Forever



Wonderwall



Don't Look Back In Anger



And of course one of my favorites:

Chamgagne Supernova

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No Surprise: Messi Recongnized As Europe's Finest

Courtesy of UEFA:

Lionel Messi, a key figure in FC Barcelona's march to UEFA Champions League glory last season, has more to celebrate after collecting the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year prize at the UEFA Club Football Awards in Monaco. The Argentinian international was also selected as Best Forward while team-mate Xavi Hernández took the Best Midfielder trophy. Manchester United FC's Edwin van der Sar was nominated Best Goalkeeper and Chelsea FC captain John Terry completed the honours list as he received his third Best Defender gong from Paolo Maldini.

Sensational season
Messi had scored Barcelona's second goal – his ninth of the 2008/09 competition – in the UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United in Rome, as the Catalan side became the first Spanish team to lift the Liga, Copa del Rey and European Champion Clubs' Cup titles in one season. If the headed goal from Messi that capped his sensational campaign was a collector's item, his presence on the scoresheet was more predictable: the 22-year-old struck 38 goals in all competitions last term.

'Important award'
Messi succeeds Cristiano Ronaldo as the Club Footballer of the Year and is the second Argentinian international to land the prize after Fernando Redondo in 2000. "It is an enormous joy to be able to receive such an important award as this," he said. "And it's also a pleasure to be able to thank all the people who voted for me and who decided I should get this award."

Bradley Names Roster For World Cup Qualifiers

CHICAGO (Aug. 27, 2009) — U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 24 players that will train in advance of the critical FIFA World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. first hosts El Salvador on Sept. 5 in Sandy, Utah (tickets). Kickoff at Rio Tinto Stadium is set for 6 p.m. MT., and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic and TeleFutura. Four days later, the U.S. returns to Hasley Crawford Stadium to take on Trinidad & Tobago. The match kicks off in Port-of-Spain at 7 p.m. ET, with live coverage on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can follow both matches live online via ussoccer.com’s newly upgraded MatchTracker.

The U.S. team will begin gathering Aug. 30 in Utah for training. Following the match against El Salvador, the U.S. team will travel Sept. 7 to Trinidad. The U.S. currently sits in third place in the final round hexagonal, collecting 10 points and a 3-2-1 record through six games. Costa Rica leads the pack with 12 points, while Honduras holds second place based on a superior goal differential to the United States. The top three teams automatically advance to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while the fourth place team will participate in a two-leg playoff against the fifth place team from South America.

“Clearly these are very important games in our effort to qualify for 2010 FIFA World Cup,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who holds an unblemished 7-0-0 record at home in World Cup qualifying. “As we expected, qualifying in this region is very competitive. Both El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago will be hungry to get points from these matches, and we have an opportunity to position ourselves well to secure a berth for South Africa.”

Seventeen players on the roster return from the group that defeated No. 1-ranked Spain and finished runners up to Brazil in the FIFA Confederations Cup in June. Tim Howard, who missed the previous match in this round against El Salvador while serving a one-game suspension, has posted an impressive seven shutouts in 12 all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. Clint Dempsey, honored with the Bronze Ball as the third best player in the Confederations Cup, tallied three times in South Africa, including goals against Spain and Brazil. Dempsey is tied for second place in scoring for the U.S. in this qualifying cycle, netting four goals along with Michael Bradley, Brian Ching and Landon Donovan.

Led by team captain Carlos Bocanegra, four players have appeared in all six of the USA’s final round qualifiers thus far. Donovan is the leading capwinner on the roster with 116 international appearances. Long the USA’s all-time leading scorer in both goals and assists, his strike in the 2-1 qualifying win against Honduras on June 6 in Chicago lifted Donovan to the top of the team’s all-time scoring list in World Cup qualifying with 11 career goals. Now with 31 career World Cup qualifying caps, Donovan is poised to surpass Kasey Keller, Eddie Pope and Claudio Reyna as the USA’s leader in appearances in qualifying.

Jozy Altidore leads all U.S. scorers in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign with five goals, including a record-setting hat trick performance in the 3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago on April 1 in Nashville, Tenn. With the three goals, the 19-year-old Altidore became the youngest player in U.S. history to record a hat trick. Altidore also scored the first goal to spark the USA’s comeback in the 2-2 draw on March 28 in El Salvador, marking the first time the team has faced and erased a two-goal deficit to earn a point on the road.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman and forward Robbie Findley are making their first appearance on a World Cup qualifying roster. Along with Robbie Rogers, they are only players on the roster without a cap in qualifying. Stuart Holden earned his first World Cup qualifying cap against Mexico. With his goal at Estadio Azteca, Charlie Davies now has recorded two goals in qualifying in three appearances.

The U.S. is playing for the first time at Rio Tinto Stadium, and only the second-ever match in the state of Utah. During qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, two goals from Donovan paced the U.S. to a 3-0 win against Costa Rica on June 4, 2005, at Rice Eccles Stadium in front of more than 40,000 fans.

Holding a lifetime record of 13-1-5 against El Salvador, the U.S. has never lost to the Salvadorans in World Cup qualifying (4-0-3). The team will be without the services of defender Oguchi Onyewu, who will be serving a one-match suspension due to yellow card accumulation.

This is the fourth consecutive World Cup qualifying cycle in which the U.S. and T & T have faced off, and the sixth overall since 1985. The U.S. holds a 10-1-2 record in qualifying against Trinidad & Tobago, including a 3-1-1 record on the road.

Following these matches, the U.S. will close out the 10-game, round robin final round with matches against Honduras and Costa Rica. The United States will travel to face Honduras on Oct. 10, and finishes group play on Oct. 14 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 12/7 SO)

DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 22/3), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA, 2/0), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover: 19/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford: 3/0), Clarence Goodson (IK Start: 1/0), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew: 2/0), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan: 17/1), Jonathan Spector (West Ham: 2/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake: 0/0), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach: 11/4), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo: 6/0), Clint Dempsey (Fulham: 18/4), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus: 2/0), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo: 1/0), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 5/0)

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Hull City: 9/5), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids: 5/0), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 16/6), Charlie Davies (FC Sochaux: 3/2), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 31/11), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake: 0/0)

*numbers indicate all-time World Cup Qualifying caps/goals

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Altidore: He Shoots, He Scores!

Coming off a strong Premiership debut in Hull City's 1-0 win over Bolton, Jozy Altidore has opened up his scoring account with his new club in their League Cup match against Southend.

Taken down 20 yards from the Southend goal in the 41st minute, Altidore took the free kick himself, sending a laser blast into the bottom left corner and into the back of the net. His goal helped Hull emerge victorious with a 3-1 win.

Two games; one goal, one assist - not bad for a 19 year-old from New Jersey.

Check it out here:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rumor Links Donovan To Paris Saint-Germain

You've probably heard the rumor by now that the LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain. What you probably haven't heard is that virtually every report (including this one) is just a recap of a blurb from French website 10 Sport.

But even 10 Sport only mentions that he is about to be engaged with the club (which could mean talks have begun), a far cry from being close to a signing - assuming this rumor has any truth to it.




A move to the French league, even if its just a loan for one season, would probably be a good way for Donovan to stay tuned up for next year's World Cup. After seeing how effective Charlie Davies has been at Sochaux, there may be other French teams now interested in signing one of the available US strikers. All that said, until you see another original news source or a quote from someone in Donovan's camp, don't hold your breath.

Great Goals From Around The World

LFV frequent flyer Peruvian international Juan Manuel Vargas does it again by opening up scoring in Fiorentina's 2-2 draw with Sporting Lisbon in Champion's League play:




Here is a textbook finish by Al-Sawielh الهلال for Al-Hilal in the first week of the Saudi League:



An American youth player cracks a pub league shot - and makes it!



Here's another one from the Champion's League. How about Valencia punishing Staebeck 3-0, with all three scored from inside the six yard box?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

US World Cup 2018 Bid Committee Announces List of 27 Potential Host Cities

NEW YORK (August 20, 2009) – The USA Bid Committee today announced the 27 United States cities that passed the third stage of the city and stadium proposal review process and remain under consideration as potential host venues for the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022. These cities will continue working with the USA Bid Committee both on the development and promotion of their local and national campaigns.

Officials representing a total of 38 cities received the Requests for Proposal (RFP) and had from June 16 to July 29 to complete their proposals and return them to the USA Bid Committee. The RFPs requested information from city officials covering a vast array of subjects such as tourism, climate, security, transportation, training sites, promotion and more.

“The USA Bid Committee is pleased to have received comprehensive responses from city officials and local organizing committees across the United States,” said Sunil Gulati, the Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer. “The overwhelming interest and creativity shown by the candidate cities made our extensive review process that much more difficult in narrowing down the list.”

The RFP process resulted in 11 cities being pulled from contention, an important step in the United States’ application that is due to FIFA in May 2010. FIFA and its 24 member Executive Committee will study the bids, conduct site visits and name the two host nations for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in December 2010, completing a 21-month bid and review process.

The 27 remaining candidate cities offer a wide variety of markets that range in size from New York City to Jacksonville, Fla., as well as vast coast-to-coast geographic strength. Numerous U.S. markets that did not play host to matches during FIFA World Cup in 1994 remain under consideration, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis, Denver, Seattle and Phoenix.

The 11 cities removed during this round were: Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Fayetteville, Ark.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Minneapolis, Minn.; New Orleans, La.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Salt Lake City, Utah and San Antonio, Tex.

In conjunction with the list of 27 cities announced by the USA Bid Committee, a short list of 32 stadiums still under consideration was also announced today. The venues average almost 74,000 in capacity and represent a wide spectrum of facilities, featuring stadiums typically used for college and professional football, including open-air, domed and retractable roof venues. All 32 stadiums currently exist or are under construction with eight featuring capacities between 80,000 and 108,000 spectators. A list of the finalist cities and stadiums, all of which are vying to be included in the USA Bid Committee’s formal bid book to FIFA in May 2010, can be found at the end of this news release and at the bid’s official webpage, goUSAbid.com.

The current list of venues came as a result of a four-month process that began in April with representatives from 58 stadiums expressing interest in being considered for the USA’s bid. The USA Bid Committee was then able to cut the list to 45 stadiums in 38 cities in mid-June following the review of a detailed questionnaire completed by the candidate venues that incorporated the strict FIFA facility requirements into the evaluation process.

“We will be working closely with officials from all 27 cities, stadiums and host committees over the next few months in our process of identifying the final list of cities that will be included in our bid book to FIFA in May 2010,” said David Downs, the Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee. “The support of the individual cities and their capacity to promote the bid will be crucial to our efforts as we work to maintain the momentum created by the launch of our national campaign and our Web page, goUSAbid.com, last week. With the passion for the game being shown by our fans and the existing infrastructure in place in the U.S., we are confident we have assembled a list of candidate cities that will meet and exceed FIFA’s requirements for hosting World Cup matches.”

FIFA’s criterion requires a candidate host nation to provide a minimum of 12 stadiums and a maximum of 18 capable of seating 40,000 or more spectators. Stadiums with a minimum capacity of 80,000 are required by FIFA for consideration to play host to the Opening Match and Final Match. The U.S. used stadiums in nine cities when it hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
The United States, Australia, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Russia have formally declared their desire to host the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022. Netherlands-Belgium and Portugal-Spain have each submitted joint bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, while Qatar and South Korea have applied as candidates to play host only to the tournament in 2022.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Altidore Gets Work Permit: Ready To Help Hull


Its official!

American striker Jozy Altidore has finally received his UK work permit and will be able to join Premiership side Hull, which opens the season this weekend against Bolton.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beckham's First Red Card in MLS

And to think he had the guff to criticize the referee for this sloppy studs-up challenge on Pete Vagenas:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sochaux: Davies Starts With A Bang

American striker Charlie Davies wasted no time making an impression on the Sochaux faithful scoring two goals in his debut. With his team down 2-0 against defending French champions Bordeaux, Davies came on in the second half and showed great composure with a great turn and finish (2:30 on the video below). Davies later scored in injury time slotting home a corner kick for his second tally (4:56 on video) since arriving in France.

Unfortunately, the 23 year-old's efforts weren't enough with Sochaux losing 3-2.

Check out the action here:


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hull Ready To Match Fulham Offer For Altidore?


Is a bidding war starting for American striker Jozy Altidore? The UK's Daily Mail thinks so.

If this pans out, it looks like Jozy's value has already jumped by $2 million since last summer.




Special thanks to LFV reader Marc Sarchet for digging up this nugget.

A Fitting Tribute For Captain Courageous

Wow! Fulham has just named its hospitality pub after former striker Brian McBride - I can't think of a more deserving player (no bias here, cough).

We've all seen McBride pour his heart, soul, and blood into every match he plays, whether its at Fulham, Columbus, Preston NE, Chicago, Wolfsburg, or for the USA.
So cheers to Fulham for recognizing a man who always gave his all (and still does)!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kenny Cooper Passes 1860 Physical

FC Dallas striker Kenny Cooper's transfer to 1860 Munich is now complete.

The final hurdle was passing his medical today, which makes him available for 1860's first match of the 2nd Bundesliga season Sunday against Koblenz.


Meanwhile, LFV pal Greg Seltzer has cleared up the latest Freddy Adu rumor.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Guitar Center Experiment

Since returning to the USA I've been looking for a more powerful bass amplifier - in particular, an Italian-made Markbass. They deliver a sweet, powerful tone from a small, lightweight box. Buying one before leaving Italy was out of the question since I was concerned that converting it from 220 volts to 110 volts could cause problems if not done right.

Well, it turns out one of the only places you can buy a Markbass in the States is at Guitar Center, the chain that has become the Wal-Mart of the music business (and the reason so many small music stores have gone under). They carry just about everything under the sun and their prices are very reasonable so you can see why they are successful.

So, this should be easy right? One thing you should know about your faithful vagabond is that I won't do business with someone who is rude or worse yet, won't even acknowledge my existence. I've often walked into a business ready to drop a pile of cash on something but walked out since they expressed little interest in doing business with me.

So, ready to make some young salesperson's day, I walked into our local Guitar Center here in El Paso, TX and checked out a few Markbass amps, plugging in a bass from the wall and running through some of my favorite bass lines and riffs to see which one had the sound I was looking for. At no time did anyone acknowledge my presence so after 20 minutes of being the invisible man and trying to get someone's attention, my bulging wallet and I walked out.

A few weeks later in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I stopped by their Guitar Center and had a similar experience. In this case, there was a tiny (but still insufficient) glimmer of hope; the anti-theft checker gave me a nod on the way out the door (without a Markbass or the Fender Precision bass I had started falling in love with).

After that, I started an experiment to see how many Guitar Centers I could walk into before an employee would greet me or interact with me in some way. Last week, it was the Tucson, Arizona store and while it was 110 degrees outside, it was cold as ice inside - no courtesy, no sale. I'm not looking for one of those annoying, hovering sales clerks you find at some places, just for someone to say hello and let you know they are the one to talk to if you have any questions (or show you some nice features of the gear you are looking at).

Years ago, I had good luck with the stores in Fairfax, Virginia and Indianapolis but as a former shareholder of Guitar Center, I'm shocked that so many of their stores have taken on such an attitude during these hard economic times. Say it ain't so Guitar Center!

In my opinion, these tough economic times are a chance to renew our once famous American customer service culture by spending our money at friendly local businesses who will treat us right and keep the money in our communities. You all know a few of these places in your community; the local eatery, book store, or florist where they always remember your name and do their best to deliver a quality product or service. Many of these places are going out of business or barely staying afloat these days as people have cut back on eating out, buying books, etc.

Its fair enough that people these days only want to spend their money if they'll have something to show for it. By spending our money at friendly businesses that make you feel welcome (and avoiding the ones that don't), we'll have something very important to show for our money; civility.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beckham Fine: A Whole $1000 MLS? Really?

So, MLS has decided to fine David Beckham a whopping $1,000 for taking the bait from jeering fans and exchanging words and gestures with them (of a less-than-gentlemanly nature).

I for one am glad to see this kind of passion coming from these MLS fans, who care enough about their club to be bothered by the way Beckham has disrespected the Galaxy over the past year. At the same time, its nice to see Beck's lacing up his "I-give-a-crap" boots for a change (glad they got packed in the luggage from Milan). How about more of that fire this year David, especially since you've missed 17 games and you're all rested up from your vacation with the Mrs? With Da Bruce at the helm and the Galaxy firing on all cylinders, how about winning a trophy or two?

All this said, if MLS wants to fine a player for misconduct, it should be commensurate with their salary in order to send the right message. A $1,000 fine sure packs a punch on those young players who are living in their cars (since their salary already puts them below the poverty level) but for Becks, come on. He can probably find that much loose change under the cushions of his couch.

Then again, if Beckham is half the cheapskate Donovan seemed to indicate in Grant Wahl's new book, perhaps MLS knew what it was doing on the level of the fine. But on whether he should have been fined in the first place, I'm not sure Becks, nor the fans (except the one who jumped down from the stands), really crossed the line.

The more you look at the videos, the more you see that this was nothing more than the kind of exchanges you see between fans and players in stadiums all over the world. We're seeing electric atmospheres in places like Seattle and Columbus (to name a few) so let's hope the league does not stifle the spirit they've worked so hard to build. This entire episode leaves me asking the same question LFV pal Phil Schoen asked recently; Is MLS Ready For The Passion?

Armstrong Channels Maldini: Hangs Tough on Mont Ventoux

American Lance Armstrong seems to be channeling Paolo Maldini these days by hanging tough with athletes who were born at least a decade after him. Today on the Tour de France's gruelling 20th stage ride up Mont Ventoux, Armstrong beat back several attacks to cement his third place standing for the ride into Paris tomorrow.


The seven-time winner made his comeback this year after a four year hiatus from top level cycling. Young Spanish powerhouse Alberto Contador appears set to claim his second Tour title tomorrow after maintaining a 4:11 lead over second place Andy Schleck and third place Armstrong.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

MLS Fines Ching For Twitter Comment

With the number of professional players using Facebook and Twitter these days, it was inevitable that a player would get into hot water for making certain comments on these social media sites.

Houston Dynamo striker Brian Ching is now the first to be fined after criticizing a referee on his Twitter page during a recent match against the Sounders.

More details here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gabe Ferrari Transfered to Foggia

American striker Gabe Ferrari has been transferred from Sampdoria to Serie C1 side Foggia after spending the past season on loan with Perugia. The New York native made 14 appearances for Perugia this season, scoring one goal.

Foggia, which last saw Serie A action in the early 1990s, has been trying to claw its way back into Serie B since 1998, coming close to promotion in 2007.

Ferrari could see his first action for Foggia in their August 2nd Tim Cup match against Viterbese.

Ibrahimovic To Barca?

The transfer season arms race at the top of Spanish football continues as today's Gazetto Dell Sport and Marca indicate Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be heading for FC Barcelona in a 42 million euro deal. Its reported that Barça President Joan Laporta and Inter Boss Massimo Moratti came to an understanding on the transfer during a meeting last night in Milan.

It is also being reported that Barca striker Sammy Eto'o may be heading to Inter as part of the deal to acquire the the 27 year-old Swede Ibrahimovic, who is currently in Los Angeles training with his Inter teammates.

Ibrahimovic, who scored 25 goals last season for the Italian champions, would add to the Spanish and European champion's already potent offense and make an ideal striker to play off the world's best supporting striker in Lionel Messi.

There remains a chance that Chelsea could still swoop in make a grab for Ibrahimovic and even Moratti admitted on Sky Italia last night that , "We need to wait to see what the player wants."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Classic: Politi on Beckham

With all of the hoopla surrounding Beckham's (reluctant) return to the LA Galaxy, here is one observer who can see through the smoke and call this one like it is.

Thanks to New Jersey reader Marc S. for passing this one along.

Szetela To DC united

Midfielder joins. D.C. after two years in Spain, Italy

Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2009) - D.C. United today acquired midfielder Danny Szetela via its #2 allocation ranking. Szetela joins the Black-and-Red after spending two-plus years in Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie B. The 22-year old is currently with the team and will be available for selection upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate. He is not expected to be available when United takes on the Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium this Saturday (8 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet).

“We are pleased that Danny has decided to return to MLS and that he is now part of D.C. United,” said General Manager Dave Kasper. “He is a talented young player who now has some terrific international experience including two years playing in Italy and Spain, as well as all of his time at the U.S. Olympic, U-20 and U-17 National Team levels. Danny is very versatile and will compete for regular playing time in a number of spots on the field. We look forward to his future contributions to our club.”

Szetela originally joined Major League Soccer in 2004, when he was allocated to the Columbus Crew at just 17-years old. Over four seasons with the Crew (2004-07), the midfielder played in 34 games (24 starts), collecting three assists. In August of 2007, Szetela was signed by Racing Santander of Spain’s La Liga and in July of 2008, he was transferred to Brescia Calcio of Italy’s Serie B. While with Brescia for parts of the last two seasons, the Clifton, NJ native played in 26 games, tallying a goal and two assists.

Szetela has earned three caps as a member of the full U.S. Men’s National Team, which includes playing in two FIFA World Cup qualifying games last year. His first cap with the full national team came on October 17, 2007 against Switzerland, setting up the game’s lone goal in the 1-0 win.

The 5-foot, 11-inch midfielder has a long history playing with the U.S. youth national teams, as well, seeing time with the U.S. at the U-14, U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels.
Last year as a part of the U.S. U-23 side, Szetela played in two games (one start) at the Bejing 2008 Olympic Games. All told with the U-23s in 2008, Szetela played in four games (one start).

As a part of the U.S. U-20 National Team in 2007, Szetela scored three goals in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada, starting each of the team’s five games. In all, he played in ten games (all starts), scored three goals and assisted on two others with the U-20s in 2007. In 2005, at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland, he played in two games with the U-20s. He played in a total of six international games in 2005 with the U-20s.

As a 15-year old, Szetela joined the U.S. Residency Program in September of 2002, finishing the year with 23 appearances (17 starts). He was the second-youngest player on the 2005 Under-17 World Championship roster, starting all four matches of the World Championship, and helping the U.S. to a fifth-place finish.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Update: Altidore To Olympiakos?

Word from reliable sources indicates this one is not yet a done deal. Stay tuned.

Greek media are reporting that young American ace Jozy Altidore may be spending the next year with Olympiakos. The 19 year-old Villarreal striker, after turning more than a few heads in the recent Confederations Cup (including scoring against Spain), is still facing the prospect of not breaking into the Yellow Submarine's starting 11.

Last year, Altidore, after making six appearances for Villarreal and scoring one goal, was loaned to second division side Xerez where he sat on the bench for five months. Recent statements attributed to the New Jersey native indicate he wants to find a situation where he can play every week.

The deal being reported in Greece indicates that a loan deal with an option to buy may be near and take Altidore across the Mediterranean to Olympiakos, where the young forward will have the opportunity to play in the Champions League.

What do you think? Could this be a good opportunity for Jozy or is he better off elsewhere?

Methinks any chance to play every week for a good club and get some Champions League action can't be a bad way to get ready for the World Cup.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Davies To Sochaux: Done Deal

According to reports in Sweden's Aftonbladet and France's L'Equipe, Hammarby's American striker Charlie Davies will move to Sochaux of the French first division for an undisclosed transfer fee. Sochaux had recently sold striker, Mevlut Erding, to Paris Saint Germain, and has founds its replacement in the 23 year-old who is currently with the US team competing in the Gold Cup.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wahl's Book: ESPN Paid For "Beckham Infomercial"

The steady release of excerpts from Grant Wahl's forthcoming book "The Beckham Experiment" continues to stir interest (and no doubt pre-orders on Amazon) as more behind-the-scenes details from his tumultuous time in LA emerge.

The latest tidbit, that ESPN paid Beckham's management company to produce a one-hour special on Beckham sounds even more crass than the previous charge that Becks was a cheapskate.

Wahl, a guy who works his butt off to develop his stories, called it "checkbook journalism," and he's 100% right.

Galaxy Acquire Trinidad International Chris Birchall

CARSON, Calif. (Wednesday, July 8, 2009) – The LA Galaxy today agreed to terms with Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Chris Birchall. The 25-year-old received his P1 Visa on Monday and will officially be added to the club’s roster upon the receipt of his International Transfer Clearance (ITC), which cannot happen until the transfer window re-opens on Wednesday, July 15. Therefore, the first game for which Birchall will be eligible to play for the club is July 16 at New York . Per team and league regulations, details of the contract were not released.

“Chris is a player that I’ve tracked for a number of years,” Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. “He is an experienced midfielder with good qualities on both sides of the ball who I feel he will be able to contribute immediately as we push for a playoff position.”

Prior to joining the Galaxy, Birchall had spent his entire club career in the England with the exception of a short loan stint in Scotland during the 2007/08 campaign. Born in Stafford , England , Birchall began his club career with Port Vale, playing nearly 80 league games. He made his debut for the club during the 2001/02 season and spent five seasons at Vale Park before being sold to Coventry City in August 2006.

Birchall went on to score twice in nearly 30 games during his time with Coventry City, while also enjoying loan spells with St. Mirren in Scotland and Carlisle United. In January 2009, Birchall signed a contact through the end of the season with Brighton & Hove Albion of England’s League One. He helped the club avoid relegation, playing in nine games in the midfield as Brighton finished three points clear of relegation to League Two.

An established international, Birchall has appeared 32 times for Trinidad and Tobago , scoring four times. Eligible to play for the country as his mother was born there, Birchall helped T&T reach the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the country’s first-ever appearance in the tournament. He scored in a 1-1 draw with Bahrain in the first leg of the two nation’s World Cup Qualifying playoff in November 2005. The Soca Warriors won the second leg 1-0 to book their spot at the World Cup.

Birchall played in all three of his country’s games at the tournament, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in each. This year, he has played in four of Trinidad & Tobago’s five CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, starting three of the matches.

Charlie Davies Transfer: The Plot Thickens?

While the French media reported a few days ago that Hammarby's American striker Charlie Davies had all but locked up a deal with Sochaux, methinks the phone lines are burning up between his agent and several clubs, to include Rennes, Saint Etienne, and at least one Bundesliga club.

Word on the street is that the price tag for the 23 year-old US breakout star of the Confederations Cup will be anywhere from is currently somewhere between € 2.5-5 million.
LFV friend in Amsterdam, Greg Seltzer, also reports that Croatian side Hajduk Split are in the mix. So who is the German club? Borussia Dortmund? Stuttgart? How about Bayern Munich, which is still in the market for a striker or two?
My spidey sense tells me that Davies and his agent and playing this one smart and letting the impact of the striker's continued exploits in the Gold Cup sweeten the deal and add to the list of potential suitors. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

FIFA Suspends Bradley For 3 Matches

American midfielder Michael Bradley has been suspended three matches by FIFA for a post-match confrontation of referee Jorge Larrionda after being shown a red card in the 87th minute of the USA's recent 2-0 win over Spain.

Read more about it here.

Brazil #1, USA #12 In New FIFA Rankings

Courtesy of FIFA:

Victory on all fronts for Brazil: after winning the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, the Seleção have regained the top spot in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, thus relegating European champions Spain (2nd, down 1) to second place. The South Americans last topped the ranking in August 2007, a position to which they have climbed six times in the history of the ranking.

The Netherlands (3rd, down 1), Italy (4th, unchanged) and Germany (5th, down 2), occupy the next three places, but are some distance behind the leading duo. Russia (6th, up 3) have overtaken England (7th, down 1) and Argentina (8th, down 1), achieving their best position since August 1997 in the process.

Of the other countries that took part in the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, finalists the USA (12th, up 2), Egypt (38th, up 2) and hosts South Africa (70th, up 2) have also progressed up the ranking. Egypt's improved position despite their early exit from the tournament is due to their 1-0 victory over world champions Italy, which scored very highly in terms of ranking points. Meanwhile, disappointing performances by Iraq (94th, down 17) and New Zealand (100th, down 18) caused them to lose ground.

In other news, Algeria (47th, up 19) and Tunisia (49th, up 2) have climbed into the top 50 at the expense of Burkina Faso (51st, down 1) and Finland (52nd, down 3). Furthermore, the following teams have achieved their best position since the ranking was introduced in 1993: Australia (16th, up 13), Gabon (30th, up 18), Grenada (88th, up 14), Montenegro (98th, up 12) and Antigua and Barbuda (105th, up 9).

In the last four weeks, a total of 119 senior international matches were played: 16 FIFA Confederations Cup matches, 67 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying matches and 36 friendlies. This brings the total matches played this year to 406. The many matches played and the devaluation of matches at UEFA EURO 2008 are the main reasons for the many changes in position in this edition of the ranking.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 5 August 2009.

Onyewu To AC Milan!

After much speculation and interest from over a dozen clubs, US and Standard Liege defender Oguchi Onyewu has just signed a 3-year deal to join AC Milan. He will be the first American to play in Serie A since Alexis Lalas played for Padova from 1994-1996.

Gooch's move to Milan makes much sense when one considers that the Rossaneri's ageing back line was overdue for renewal, especially given the retirement of longtime great Paolo Maldini.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Charlie Davies In Sochaux's Sights

French Ligue 1 side Sochaux are reported to have Hammarby's young American striker Charlie Davies in their sights for a summer transfer.




His agent Lyle Yorks told French web site Foot1; "Yes, Sochaux is very interested and we'll sit down to finalize his arrival very soon."

Real Madrid Joins The Chase For Onyewu

According to media reports from the Real Madrid camp, the Spanish giants are considering adding American defender Oguchi Onyewu to their pantheon of Galacticos (as an alternative to Álvaro Arbeloa).

Meanwhile, Belgian news sources seem to indicate he is close to a deal with Ajax while the Italian media are focused on Genoa and Fiorentina. Reports out of Istanbul indicate Fenerbahce is out of the running while the lack of new rumors out of England only indicate that there must be contact with a least a few new Premiership clubs.

So, will it be Ajax, Palermo, Fiorentina, Genoa, Parma, Espanyol, Valencia, Fulham, Marseille, PSG, Real Madrid, or some other team?

Stay tuned because this one is far from over.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Justice For Eric Frimpong

At the behest of some friends who found this story first, we're passing along this story of what looks like a miscarriage of justice against UC-Santa Barbara ace Eric Frimpong.

Its shameful that in 2009 on America's birthday, such things are still happening in this country.

Read, make up your own mind, and if you think its as unjust as the rest of us do, please offer your support.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Zizzo Loaned To Fortuna Dusseldorf

American midfielder Sal Zizzo has been loaned from Hannover 96 to newly promoted Second Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf on a 1-year deal.

The 22 year-old Olympian and UCLA alum is expected to see more playing time in Dusseldorf and perhaps increase his chances for a senior US team callup in the coming year.

What do you think? Can Sal Zizzo recapture the mojo of his US youth team days and get onto Bob Bradley's radar scope?





Dempsey On The Move?

Despite Clint Dempsey being quoted that he'd like to stay at Fulham, the 2009 Confederations Cup Bronze Ball winner may still be on the move. While a few clubs are rumored to be in the hunt, the name Everton has started to emerge in the English press.

Onyewu Suitors: Add Genoa To The List

Add another to the list.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pack Pursuing Onyewu Continues To Grow

In addition to the teams we last mentioned in pursuit of US defender Oguchi Onyewu, a few more have joined the pack. Perennial Dutch power Ajax are said to be interested in Gooch, as well and the French media are now seeing renewed interest from PSG and Marseille. There are also reports out of Belgium that he "is not closing the door on a longer stay at Standard" yet either.

Stay tuned - this one will only get more interesting.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fiorentina, Palermo Enter The Race For Onyewu

According to press reports from Italy and Belgium, two Italian Serie A clubs are interested in acquiring American central defender Oguchi Onyewu. Fiorentina and Palermo now join Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Fulham, Besiktas, and Fenerbahce for the 6'4" player who is available on a free transfer from Standard Liege in July.

Personally, I'd love to see him go to Fiorentina, a club which always plays with a good attacking style and appears on the verge of regaining a potentcy not seen since the Batistuta era.

The Viola had been aiming to sign Barcelona's Mexican defender Rafa Marquez but since he signed a new deal with the Spanish champions on Thursday, Onyewu has emerged as an option. Their other option is Napoli central defender Fabiano Santacroce - a player also targetted by the deep-pocketed Juventus. This entire scenario also indicates that Juve could end up taking a look at Onyewu if Napoli (a club normally reluctant to sell key talent) decides to keep Santacroce.

The Gooch connection with Palermo looks less likely to result in a a serious bid since the club just made an offer for Sao Paolo central defender Andre Dias and a deal appears to be in the making.

Onyewu has been drawing ever more attention for his dominant play in Belgium's Jupiler League and strong performances at the Confederations Cup, in particular for his heroic defensive efforts alongside Jay DeMerit in the USA's 2-0 win over European champions Spain.

If Gooch can turn in another such performance tomorrow in the final against Brazil, expect the list of interested clubs to grow and don't be surprised to see a few Champion's League trophy contenders on the list.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Still Speechless

USA beats Spain 2-0 to make it to the Confederations Cup Final.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Livorno Crushes Brescia's Serie A Dreams

Livorno crushed Danny Szetela's Brescia side 3-0 in the final leg of their promotion playoff and will return to Serie A next season. Livorno's win capped a 5-2 aggregate win in the Serie B playoffs. Lingering injuries kept Danny Szetela out of the side which will remain in Serie B for at least one more season. Szetela's loan deal to Brescia expires at the end of June and its still not clear whether he'll stay with the club, move back to Racing Santander, or be picked up by another European side.

Francesco Tavano, Alessandro Diamanti and Martin Bergvold were the goal scorers for Livorno, which returns to the top flight after finishing the 2007-08 Serie A campaign bottom of the table.

Friday, June 19, 2009

US Soccer: Which Way Ahead?

In case you're wondering why your loyal vagabond has yet to comment on Team USA's woes at the Confederation's Cup, I'm watching the matches again and trying to put some emotional distance between these events (and see how they respond against a strong Egypt side) before offering my views on where we stand and where to go from here.

In the meantime, what do you think? Do we need a change of direction, leadership, or both?

Are we developing the kinds of players we need or are we churning out players with big hearts but little imagination or technique?

Have your say in our comments section.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brescia Draws Livorno 2-2 in Promotion Playoff

American midfielder Danny Szetela did not play in Brescia's 2-2 draw with Livorno yesterday, the first leg in a home-and-away series to determine who will play in Serie A next year.

Given that the away goals rule does not apply and the higher seeded team (Livorno) advances if the goal aggregate is tied, Brescia faces a must-win situation on the road next week at Livorno.

Americans Score Three, But Lose To Italy 3-1

Ugh!




Great job by Tim Howard!
Carlos Bocanegra - please get well soon!
Landon Donovan - please stop taking free kicks. I have yet to see you create something dangerous with one. But, please keep taking penalties.
Jozy Altidore - good work, keep it up!
Michael Bradley and Oguchi Onyewu - help is on the way and his name is Jermaine.
Bob Bradley - please take Phil Schoen's advice and give the young creative kids a chance. Otherwise, I predict your stint as the US team's coach will end in summer 2010.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More Great Soccer Writing

Its been about six months since we've featured some great soccer writing so here are a few as we start the summer.

Sometimes great soccer writing can be found in the business pages as Bloomberg London's Christopher Elser shows us this week in an insightful piece on the big gamble Real Madrid is making with its future with some of its current transfer deals. Elser does a fine job of reminding readers that far from being a rich club, Real Madrid is now so mired in debt that if Ronaldo and Kaka do not significantly up the club's revenues, it may start to resemble a teetering US bank considered too big too fail.

I contrast Elser's piece with a recent contribution by the AP's Jim Litke constrasting traditional US sports club owners with the wheelers and dealers of European football. Its always refreshing when someone can translate European soccer phenomena into terms American non-soccer fans (like Mr. never-played-sports-in-his-life Jim Rome) can understand...OK, maybe not Jim Rome (unless we get Jim Everett to make him read it). I'd love to see Jim do a follow-up article on how those European wheeler-dealer owners manage to do so well without acting like American sports team owners who blackmail cities (and their taxpayers) to build them a new stadium, lest they move to another city.

Finally, LFV reader Kevin Quinn passed along Al Needham's 1998 World Cup diary which he tells us pushed him from being a casual fan into becoming an "obsessive one." Reading Al's passionate commentary, I can see why.

So I Guess Chelsea Won't Be Spending Much This Year

...since Abramovich just bought a huge yacht for $550 million. Buying the world's largest yacht, complete with a helipad and its own submarine, doesn't exactly leave much money to buy Franck Ribery from Bayern - leaving the door open for Real Madrid to swoop in.

Szetela, Brescia On The Brink

American midfielder Danny Szetela and his Brescia teammates have a chance to earn promotion to Serie A if they can get past Livorno in a home and away playoff series which starts tomorrow.

The first leg will be played June 14 in Brescia with the return leg on June 20 in Livorno. In the Italian promotion playoff scheme, the away goals rule do not apply so if tied on aggregate goals, the higher seeded team (Livorno) would be promoted.

The 21 year-old Szetela has made 16 Serie B appearances this season (scoring one goal) after facing a spate of injuries all year. He did not play in last week's 3-0 win over Empoli but is expected to suit up as a substitute for tomorrow's first leg.

On loan from Racing Santander through the end of June 2009, its not yet clear whether he'll stay with on with Brescia, go back to Racing, or move to another club (since some interest exists in Poland and elsewhere). If Brescia can earn promotion and the New Jersey native stays with the club, he would be become the first American to play in Serie A since Alexis Lalas' last appearance for Padova in 1996.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Here We Go! U.S. Team Confederations Cup Update

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer:

U.S. Men’s National Team Confederations Cup Update
Tshwane/Pretoria
June 12, 2009

CONFED CUP KICKS OFF AGAINST ITALY: Less than 72 hours remain before the U.S. begins play in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, with no less than defending World Cup champion Italy waiting to greet them. Kickoff at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria is set for 2:25 ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN and Telefutura. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. The U.S. will then face five-time World Cup champion Brazil on June 18 in the same venue (9:55 a.m. ET, ESPN2 and Telefutura) before closing out group play against two-time defending African Nations Cup champion Egypt on June 21 at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenberg (2:25 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and Telefutura).

OFFICIAL U.S. CONFEDERATIONS CUP MEDIA GUIDE AVAILABLE ONLINE: Both media and fans alike now have free access to the USA's 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup media guide. The reference tool includes player bios, the team's history in the tournament, a look back at the 2007 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup, and more.

The free media guide can be downloaded as a PDF file by clicking here.

QUICK HITS:

The U.S. team has been together in part since training camp opened on May 26 before two FIFA World qualifiers, at Costa Rica and home against Honduras. The team departed from Chicago on June 8 for South Africa, arriving on June 9 into Pretoria.

The U.S. is without several regulars due to injury. Defenders Steve Cherundolo (Hanover 96) and Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), midfielder Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers) and forward Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo) are all unable to participate due to injury.

The U.S. is the reigning champion of CONCACAF, qualifying for the FIFA Confederations Cup via a 2-1 defeat of Mexico on June 24, 2007, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

South Africa marks the U.S. team’s fourth appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup. The U.S. also appeared in Saudi Arabia (1992), Mexico (1999) and France (2003).

The U.S. has twice finished third at the FIFA Confederations Cup. In 1992, the U.S. was third out of four teams, and it 1999 they were third of eight teams.

Bruce Murray and Brian McBride lead the U.S. with two goals each in Confederations Cup play. Overall, Mexico’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Brazil’s Ronaldinho hold the record with nine career goals in the tournament.

The FIFA Confederations Cup is the 48th FIFA men’s competition in which the U.S. has participated. Only Brazil (61st) has participated in more.

If a player accumulates two yellow cards in the FIFA Confederations Cup, he will miss his team’s next game in the tournament. Yellow cards do not carry over into July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, however, if a player receives a red card in the final Confederations Cup match for the U.S., he will be suspended for the Gold Cup opener.

Following the conclusion of the Confederations Cup, the U.S. returns to home soil to defend the Gold Cup title from July 3-26 in 13 venues across the United States.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Average Age: 24.8
Average Caps: 27
Most Caps: 110 (Landon Donovan)
Least Caps: 0 (Luis Robles)
Oldest: 30 (Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra)
Youngest: 19 (Jozy Altidore)
Play professionally in: USA (6), England (5), Germany (3), France (2), Denmark (2), Spain (1), Sweden (1), Belgium (1), Mexico (1), Scotland (1)

Schalke's Jones Opts To Play For The USA

Looks like we'll need to hit the pause button on my hiatus...

FC Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones, once seen as a future hopeful for the German national team has announced he'd rather play for the USA. The 27 year-old dual German-American citizen is the son of an American service member who was stationed in Germany.

"I think that I never really got the chance in the German team, although I always did well in my club performances," Jones told Kicker. "I've long had it in mind to play for the U.S. "For me, a new life now begins."

The six-foot, one inch defensive midfielder rose through the ranks of his hometown Frankfurt youth system before landing a contract with Eintracht Frankfurt where he worked his way into the first team in 2001 before being sold to Bayer Leverkusen. There, he languished in the reserves (so he and Landon Donovan will have something in common already) and in 2005, was loaned back to Frankfurt where he excelled before being acquired by Schalke in 2007. He has made 84 appearances for Schalke, scoring six goals.

More importantly, the speedy enforcer has Champions League experience, a level of experience sorely lacking in the current edition of the US squad. I think this development will ensure that Michael Bradley's role will be more offensive, not a bad development. Where and how he could fit into Bob Bradley's scheme (and what its means for rising d-mids Maurice Edu and Sacha Kljestan) remains to be seen but these are just the kind of problems the US team could use right now - what role to give a player of Jones' caliber.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On Hiatus For A Bit

As you can probably tell, your loyal vagabond has been laying low these days since I just moved back to the USA after 10 great years of bouncing around Europe. Now I'm in sunny El Paso where neighboring club Indios (Juarez) just made a great run in the Mexican First Division playoffs.

So, I'll be on hiatus for a few weeks reacquainting myself to round doorknobs, large parking spaces, and late night Mexican food. In the meantime, please take a look at the links on your left and be sure to support our excellent sponsors.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

US Assistant Novak Calls It Quits

CHICAGO (May 28, 2009) — U.S. Men’s National Team assistant coach Peter Nowak has resigned from his position with U.S. Soccer to pursue other career opportunities.

Nowak served as head coach Bob Bradley’s top assistant for more than two years, and led the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. During his time with U.S. Soccer, Nowak helped the U.S. team capture the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup title and compile a 9-1-1 record in FIFA World Cup qualifying. Overall, the U.S. team’s record is 24-8-4 since Nowak joined the MNT staff in December 2006.

“On behalf of the coaching staff, we want to thank Peter for all of his efforts with U.S. Soccer. He is an outstanding coach and a great friend,” said U.S. Head Coach Bob Bradley. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him as both a player in Chicago and as a partner with the national team. I look forward to continuing our relationship.” There are no plans in place to immediately replace Nowak, and the U.S. will go into this summer’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers, FIFA Confederations Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup with Mike Sorber, John Hackworth, Zak Abdel and Pierre Barrieu assisting Bradley.

"During his time with U.S. Soccer, Peter was a valuable asset to our coaching staff and helped us accomplish a number of our goals," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "We want to thank Peter for his tireless effort and wish him all the best in his next endeavor in soccer."

The former D.C. United head coach took the helm of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team in August 2007, and six months later guided the team through a successful qualifying campaign for the 2008 Olympic Games with a 3-1-1 record. In Beijing, the U.S., which was drawn into a group widely considered the “group of death,” had a strong showing but were left out of the knock-out rounds despite earning four points with a 1-1-1 record. His overall record with the U-23s was 4-5-4.

The U.S. is currently training in Miami and will continue 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying against Costa Rica at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose on June 3 at 10 p.m. ET live on ESPN and Galavision. Three days later the U.S. returns to face Honduras at Soldier Field on June 6 at 7 p.m. CT live on ESPN and Galavision. Following the qualifiers, the U.S. team will depart to face Italy, Brazil and Egypt at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bradley Names 24-Man Roster For World Cup Qualifiers

BRADLEY NAMES 24-MAN ROSTER TO TRAIN FOR FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS AGAINST COSTA RICA AND HONDURAS

CHICAGO (May 24, 2008) — U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 24 players that will train in advance of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras. The U.S. will be seeking its first-ever victory away to Costa Rica when they meet at Estadio Saprissa in the fourth match of the 10-game final round of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Kickoff on June 3 is set for 8 p.m. MT, and the match will be broadcast live on the ESPN Networks and Galavision.

Three days later, the city of Chicago will host its first World Cup qualifier when the U.S. welcomes Honduras to Soldier Field (tickets). More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for the USA’s third home match of the final round, where the U.S. will face the team who delivered them their last home loss in World Cup qualifying, a 3-2 defeat on Sept. 1, 2001, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The match will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can follow both matches live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

The U.S. is in first place in the final round hexagonal with an undefeated 2-0-1 record. Costa Rica sits one point behind, while Honduras holds the third position. The top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. “Clearly these next matches are very important in our efforts to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who is 9-1-1 overall in qualifying action. “Both teams have been very good throughout the qualifying process. We are certainly aware of the challenges of playing in Costa Rica, and Honduras has produced some great results, including two wins against Mexico. We are excited for the start of a very competitive summer for our team.”

The U.S. team will begin assembling on May 26 in Miami, and depart June 1 for San Jose. Several players will join camp following weekend club competition, including 2008 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Tim Howard, who will lead Everton against Chelsea in the FA Cup final on May 30 at Wembley Stadium, and DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu, who can win the Scottish league title later today and will play in the Scottish FA Cup final against Falkirk next weekend. José Francicso Torres will arrive late if Pachuca reaches the finals of the Mexican league playoffs, and the MLS-based players will travel to Miami following their league matches this week.

The roster boasts nine players who have appeared in all three of the USA’s final round qualifiers, including seven who have started every game. Three players: Michael Bradley – the ussoccer.com Man of the Match after scoring a pair of goals in the 2-0 win against Mexico – DaMarcus Beasley and Heath Pearce are tied with nine starts during the 2010 qualifying campaign. Following his record-setting hat trick in the 3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago on April 1 in Nashville – he is the youngest U.S. player ever to put in three goals in a game – Jozy Altidore now leads all U.S. attackers with five goals in this World Cup qualifying cycle.

Bradley, Brian Ching and Clint Dempsey all have four goals each. Dempsey is one game shy of his 50th appearance for the United States. Landon Donovan is the leading capwinner on the roster with 108 international appearances, the USA’s all-time leader in goals and assists is one goal shy of tying Brian McBride for the most career goals in World Cup qualifying (10). He recorded assists on all three of Altidore’s goals against Trinidad & Tobago, improving his career tally to 36 assists.

The U.S. defense has produced eight shutouts through 11 matches in this cycle. Tim Howard has presided over five clean sheets, while Brad Guzan has picked up the remaining three. Team captain Carlos Bocanegra has been an anchor in central defense alongside Oguchi Onyewu, who is playing Anderlecht on Sunday in the second leg of a playoff to determine the Belgian league champion.

Frankie Hejduk, a veteran of four World Cup qualifying cycles, has started all three final round matches at right back, providing a goal and an assist in the 2-2 away draw in El Salvador, marking the first time the U.S. has come from behind by two goals to earn a point on the road. In addition to the 24-man roster, two players have been invited to participate in their first camp with the full team: Aston Villa defender Erich Lichaj and Kaiserslautern goalkeeper Luis Robles.

Following the two qualifiers, the U.S. will depart June 8 for South Africa to begin preparations for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. The final 23-man roster for the event will be announced June 7 in Chicago. 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 tournament, which will be played from June 14-28. 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. 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.

ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton: 9/7 SO)

DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 19/2), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA: 1/0), Danny Califf (Midtjylland: 4/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford: 1/0), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 17/2), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 14/1), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 9/0), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United: 2/1), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC: 0/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Freddy Adu (Monaco: 5/1), DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers: 24/6), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach: 9/4), Maurice Edu (Rangers: 4/0), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus: 0/0), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 9/0), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids: 13/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 4/0).

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Xerez: 6/5), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 15/6), Charlie Davies (Hammarby: 1/1), Clint Dempsey (Fulham: 15/4), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 28/9)*numbers indicate all-time World Cup Qualifying caps/goals

Head Coach: Bob Bradley (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) All-time Record: 24-8-4 World Cup Qualifying: 9-1-1

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Onyewu Transfer Saga - Part 17

Every time the transfer window opens, the rumors and guessing games involving Gooch's future reach new levels of the ridiculous. With longtime interest from France and England, it now seems odd that the one club making the most public pronouncements is Birmingham City (while Turkish side Fenerbahce is also in the mix).

Personally, I think Onyewu would probably prefer to play for a Champion's League club (Marseille anyone?) but sources in Belgium have long indicated he's had his heart set on the Premiership. The real question is, would he prefer to play for a newly-promoted Premiership side (Birmingham), or play twice a week for a top French club?

A few other clubs which could use his services are Fulham, AC Milan, Arsenal, Roma, and Real Madrid which are all looking to bump up or replace key losses in central defense.

Personally, I can see Gooch going to Marseille, provided coach Eric Gerets sticks around. They play an attractive style of football in a system for which he is well suited, plus they should be able to show well in the Champion's League next year. Unless Arsenal or Real Madrid comes calling, I can't think of a better way for Onyewu to shine at the next level.