Saturday, February 28, 2009

Comments and Predictions

I'm still in the songwriting mode these days (since it pays much better than soccer writing) so once again, I'll let some musicians help out with a few predictions and comments.

What will David Beckham be doing this year?

What do you make of recent reports that Vincenzo Bernardo is not committed to playing for the US U-20s?

What Are Your Thoughts On the New MLS Season?

Will Freddy Adu Ever Get A Start With AS Monaco?

DISCLAIMER: Letters From Vagabondia non hosta alcun video pubblicato su di esso. Tutti i video pubblicati sono caricati da amanti di calcio su siti di video hosting come Youtube e Dailymotion ed ubicati dunque su siti esterni a Letters from Vagabondia. Letters From Vagabondia non è responsabile del contenuto di tali siti web. I video appartengono ai loro creatori ed essi ne sono responsabili.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Champions League Review: Let The Bands Do The Talking

Instead of my own commentary on the results of this week's Champions League matches, I'll let some fine bands do it instead.

Bayern Munich 5 - Sporting Lisbon 0:

Chelsea 1 - Juventus 0

*Everyone knows the Gallaghers are huge City fans but this one just seemed to fit.

Arsenal 1 - AS Roma 0

Inter Milan 0 - Manchester United 0

Olympique Lyon 1 - Barcelona 1

*Yep Barca, you were Outshined.

Real Madrid 0 - Liverpool 1

Porto 2 - Atletico Madrid 2

Porto had something to prove and their comeback proved it well

Villarreal 1 - Panathanaikos 1

Perfect if you're Panathanaikos

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Last Minute Champions League Predictions

If you're like me and could care less about the Oscars (and are already tired of hearing about it), tonight's Champion's League matches are arriving just in time. Here are my predictions:

Arsenal 2 - Roma 1. Roma's road form is weak in Italy and even worse when they travel to England. But, Roma are on a roll and won't go down easily.

Inter Milan 2 - Manchester United 1. This game is pretty evenly matched in terms of quality but The Special One has Sir Alex's number tonight

Atlético 1 - Porto 1. Atlético barely survives a Porto attacking flurry that nearly pulls off an upset.

Lyon 1 - Barcelona 3. Lyon will put up a good fight in the freezing cold Stade Gerland but Barca's quality will overwhelm the home side starting in the 65th minute.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Disgusting Tackle of The Month

This is one of the worst challenges I've seen in a professional match for quite some time; Newcastle's Kevin Nolan with a two footed tackle directly onto the right shin of Everton's Victor Anichebe.

Almost as bad, was the way Nolan protested to referee Lee Mason for showing him a red card. After the match Nolan's managers swore up and down that the foul was unitentional but a professsional should have enough control not to make such out of control tackles that result in basically jumping on someone's shin with both studded cleats. Its the kind of thing that is supposed to separate the real pros from hacks like the rest of us.

It looked like Nolan had broken Anichebe's leg below the knee but he seemed OK and played on in the 0-0 draw. We'll see if he does not have any nagging problems after toughing it out the rest of the way.

If the FA wants to protect players from similar tackles, banning Nolan for three matches would seem to be in order.

Beckham: No News Is Good News

This afternoon in Serie A, David Beckham played a lackluster 90 minutes for Milan in their 1-0 win over Cagliari with Clarence Seedorf providing the game winner in the 65th minute.

Becks may not be quite ready to stay on in Milan unless he works on his Italian. During today's match, he was often heard calling out "Change!" in English while bewildered teammates weren't sure what he was saying.

Beckham also got into an injury time scuffle with a Calgiari 's Michele Fini knocked over Milan keeper Abbiati and then elbowed Beckham in the head. Becks was substituted in injury time and was seen holding an ice pack above his right ear as time was called.

After the match when asked about his possible transfer to Milan, Beckham told Sky Calcio, "No news is good news...but I do hope to stay in Milan. Talks are still going on and I hope things work out." When asked whether his England place was at risk if he stayed on with the LA Galaxy, he replied: "Of course, people have said that but I've been at the Galaxy for a year and still managed to be in the England team...but I really hope to stay here."

Serie A: Napoli Still Winless in Seven Matches

I haven't been blogging quite enough lately, in part because of the dark mood which seems to have taken hold here in Naples. The home team, Napoli, had a strong start to the season and was hovering around 3rd to 4th place in Serie A when "the streak" started - seven games without a win.

In fact, the town's beloved blue has earned just two points in seven matches and has slid down to mid-table, a place cemented by today's 1-0 loss to Genoa. From December to January, locals were talking about the squad playing in the Champion's League and now they are pointing fingers at players like German Denis (who promised 20 goals and a Champion's League spot). Denis has not quite lived up to expectations but he remains the only decent option for a target man up front.

It seems that things really started to crumble after the team dropped a home match to rivals Roma 3-0, a loss which left the coffee bars full of long faces and hushed tones. Meanwhile, it seems Roma has switched places with Napoli after the slow starting giallarossi have roared back are now sitting on 43 points and poised to grab a Champion's League spot. The most galling aspect for the Napoli faithful is that they've dropped so many points to some of the league's weaker squads including Udinese, Palermo, and relegation threatened Bologna. Now, Napoli faces a real uphill battle to claw its way back into contention as it faces Juventus, Lazio, Reggina, and AC Milan in the next four matches.

Elsewhere in Serie A, Romanian striker Adrian Mutu was the savior for Fiorentina, scoring an injury time goal to give the Viola a 2-1 win over the pesky Chievo Verona. Chievo players threw a fit and started their own shoving match since their own Davide Mandelli lay injured on the ground while Fiorentina cashed in on its final attack.

Today's goal of the day in Italy has got to be Catania's Ciro Capuano in his 34th minute left-footed net ripper against Reggina.

Check it out here (1:03 into the video):

DISCLAIMER: Letters From Vagabondia non hosta alcun video pubblicato su di esso. Tutti i video pubblicati sono caricati da amanti di calcio su siti di video hosting come Youtube e Dailymotion ed ubicati dunque su siti esterni a Letters from Vagabondia. Letters From Vagabondia non è responsabile del contenuto di tali siti web. I video appartengono ai loro creatori ed essi ne sono responsabili.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Zizzo, Bradley Face Off in Gladbach

Two young Americans faced off in Bundesliga action this weekend as Michael Bradley's Borussia Moenchengladbach hosted Hannover 96 and Sal Zizzo (Steve Cherundolo is still out with a hip injury). Bradley went the full 90 for Gladbach, which collected all three points in a 3-2 win. Zizzo entered the match in the 62nd minute for Hannover, making only his third appearance of the season.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Landon Donovan played the second half with Bayern Munich's down 2-0 to 1FC Koeln. While he was involved in some good chances for Bayern, the Bavarians could only crack the Geissbock's defense once, in the 84th minute, to end up 2-1 for the Koelners.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bradley On A Roll

US and Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Michael Bradley is on a roll; scoring two in the USA's 2-0 win over Mexico, then scoring for Gladbach upon his return. Check it out here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Smug Soccer Management Press Conference

Obviously some 1860 Munich fan is not thrilled with the team's management. Special thanks to Keith Richardson for digging up this hilarious nugget. For those easily offended, please don't press the play button.

New York Stars Fall To Dukla Prague in Viareggio Opener

The New York Stars (a select team from the metro New York area) fell to Dukla Prague 5-2 today in Pisa during their opening match of the prestigious Torneo Viareggio.

SSC Napoli's Vincenzo Bernardo, on loan for the tournament, went the full 90, drawing a penalty and then scoring from the PK spot. Later, Bernardo carried deep into the Dukla Prague penalty area again and had his cross cleared out by the Dukla defense. The clearance fell to the feet of Chris Alesci, who cracked an 18 meter shot for New York's second goal. Alesci normally plays for the PDL's Westchester Flames.

Today's two goals were the first ever scored by the New York Stars, a perennial participant. In the past, they've normally been beaten 6-0 or 7-0, so a 5-2 losing result is still a sign of real progress.

The Stars face an even stiffer test on Saturday when they take on Fiorentina in the second round.

Hothead Mexican Assistant Coach Slaps Hejduk

Last night I kept thinking of the long list of reasons why we're lucky to have Frankie Hejduk, a man in the best form of his life, still earning caps for Team USA. Then, thanks to Greg Seltzer and Steven Goff, I remembered another reason; that he is one classy dude.

In case you haven't heard by now, Mexican assistant coach (and poor sport) Paco Ramirez slapped Hejduk while the teams were heading into the locker room after a 2-0 US win. Frankie could have reacted in a number of ways but his response speaks volumes for his class and character.

And wouldn't you know that American Spanish language channel Univision caught the whole thing on tape...

Given the pressure Sven-Goran Eriksson is under after the loss, did Ramirez just offer himself up as an easy sacrificial lamb Sven can throw to the Mexican federation, press, and public? Will FIFA and/or CONCACAF sanction Ramirez? Should they?

USA Beats Voodoo Curse and Mexico (Again)

If you're reading this blog, there is a 99% chance you saw the USA beat Mexico 2-0 last night on two goals by Michael Bradley and some stout goalkeeping by Tim Howard. So instead of giving a recap of a game you already saw, here are some highlights you can show to your Mexican friends who are still in denial that they haven't won on US soil in 10 years.

LFV friend Greg Seltzer over at No Short Corners found this fun video of one Mexico fan who is taking the loss way too hard:

If that's not enough, how about Lindsey Vonn's gold medal winning run in the downhill at the World Championships in Val D'Isere?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beckham's transfer status will be decided by Friday

As I sit here watching David Beckham play in the England-Spain match, Bob Wagman has posted a great update on the likely endgame in the current Beckham transfer saga.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

USA-Mexico Countdown

The movers took away about half of my stuff today so and I'm now sitting here among piles of boxes waiting to be taken away tomorrow.

So, here are a few great articles which break down the impending USA-Mexico showdown pretty well.

The "Dean" Bob Wagman's preview on Soccer Times.

Gol TV's Phil Schoen has a nice preview over on his blog.

And for those of you in Columbus - make some noise! We expect to hear you all the way over here in Napoli!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tim Howard Promotes Teammates For England

The consumate team player, Tim Howard is now promoting two of his Everton teammates, Everton Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott to be called-up for the England squad.

Scolari Out At Chelsea

Wow! It turns out Luis Felipe Scolari only lasted seven months at Chelsea.

More details here and here.

And who will replace him? Maybe big Guus.

USA-Mexico, Waiting On The Movers

Well vagabonds, I'm waiting on the movers to come start boxing up my stuff so there won't be much time to write over the next few days. Instead, I'll try to post a few snippets to keep you up to date.

My prediction for the USA-Mexico game is 2-1 for the USA with goals from Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan. (and Rafa Marquez for Mexico). Look for the Tri to fight hard but struggle with the weather much like they did against Canada up in Thunder Bay a few years back.

Of course I won't be able to see the match until my friend mails me the DVD. Instead, I'll be "settling" for Italy-Brazil and France-Argentina.

If you are in the States, I suggest you don't watch it at home but take your five-a-side buddies and go watch it at a sports bar. Tip well, raise hell, and see how many new US Soccer fans you can bring in while putting the soccer haters on notice that resistance is futile.

USA Fans in Germany, 2006

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bradley Names 20-Man Roster For World Cup Qualifier Against Mexico

Courtesy of US Soccer:

CHICAGO (Feb. 8, 2008) — U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 20 players that will train in advance of the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Mexico on Feb. 11 in Columbus, Ohio. Kickoff for the USA’s most anticipated match of the final round is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and Univision. Fans will also be able to listen to the match on 75 affiliates of the Fútbol de Primera Radio Network, and can follow live online via’s MatchTracker.

The match on Wednesday will mark the third straight time that Columbus Crew Stadium has hosted the home leg of the final round World Cup qualifying series between the United States and Mexico. Tickets sold out within 90 minutes of going on public sale.

Eighteen of the 20 players on the roster participated in the first two rounds of World Cup qualifying last year. Bradley has called on a dozen players from foreign-based clubs, led by team captain Carlos Bocanegra and 2008 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Tim Howard, who is unbeaten in four matches against Mexico and has posted an impressive five shutouts in five all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. Clint Dempsey finished 2008 tied for the team lead in goal scored (4), with all of his strikes coming in World Cup qualifying action. DaMarcus Beasley is one of four players on the roster who started in the last World Cup qualifier against Mexico, scoring the insurance goal in the 2-0 win on Sept. 3, 2005, in Columbus. Oguchi Onyewu, who set up Steve Ralston for the game-winner that day, scored a career-high three goals for the U.S. in 2008, including a header against Mexico in the 2-2 draw in Houston. Michael Bradley, who scored the game-winning goal in the 3-0 semifinal round qualifying win against Trinidad & Tobago, tied with Heath Pearce for the most appearances for the team in 2008, each starting in 11 of 14 matches. José Francisco Torres – who plays in the Mexican Primera División - is the only player on the roster who is not based in Europe or the United States.

Landon Donovan is the leading capwinner on the roster with 105 international appearances, the USA’s all-time leader in goals and assists now one goal shy of tying Brian McBride for the most career goals in World Cup qualifying (10). Donovan has been a particular nemesis to El Tri, having scored four times in his career against Mexico, highlighted by the second goal in a 2-0 win in the Round of 16 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

On the domestic front, eight players from the recently completed training camp at The Home Depot Center traveled to Columbus. The current MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew contributes two locals in Frankie Hejduk and Robbie Rogers. Hejduk, now in his fourth qualifying cycle, has eight career appearances and two goals against Mexico. Brian Ching scored four goals through the first two rounds of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying, the striker now just one shy of reaching double digits in goals for the United States. Sacha Kljestan – one of six 2008 Olympians on the roster – became only the second player in U.S. history to score his first three goals in the same game when the U.S. collected a 3-2 win against Sweden on Jan. 24 at The Home Depot Center.

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, 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.

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.


GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 4/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 7/5 SO)

DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 16/2), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA, 1/0), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland: 3/0), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 14/1), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 12/1), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 7/0), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC: 0/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers: 21/6), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach: 6/2), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo: 3/0), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 6/0), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 1/0)

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Xerez C.D.: 3/1), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 12/6), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF: 1/1) Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC: 12/4), Landon Donovan (Bayern Munich: 25/9)

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

Donovan Sees Sub Minutes In Bayern Win Over Dortmund

Landon Donovan saw 18 minutes of playing time tonight in Bayern Munich's 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, coming on for Luca Toni in the 72nd minute with the score tied at 1-1. Donovan's smart runs up front opened space for Bayern's Miroslav Klose to score goals in the 88th and 90th minutes.

Midfielder Sal Zizzo dressed but did not play for Hannover in their 3-1 loss to Energie Cottbus while Steve Cherundolo, out with an injury, did not suit up.

In the Second Bundesliga, Grover Gibson is still out injured so he missed Rot-Weiss Ahlen's 2-1 win over his old club FC Augsburg.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

E Tu Blockbuster?

The last time I was back home in the States last July, I was dumbstruck at seeing a promotional poster for the Mexican national soccer team hanging on the wall of a McDonald's in Gallup, New Mexico. It then gave me a flashback to watching a 1994 USA-Chile friendly in Albuquerque and being disgusted at how many fans were cheering against our own national team but I digress...

Now, it seems Blockbuster has joined the ranks of the corporate Judas clan, taking part in putting a voodoo hex on the US National Team in the run up to the US-Mexico World Cup qualifier on February 10th.

It seems that Mexico, desperate to halt a 10 year winless streak in the USA (do you hear that Euro-prognosticators who always rank Mexico higher?), will try anything these days. Its just too bad that the ad, which features a voodoo doll of a US player named Gringo being stuck with pins, will give more US fans a reason to skip Blockbuster and sign up for Netflix or stop by their local Hollywood Video store.

Bernardo Stays At Napoli But European Interest Remains

It looks like American forward Vincenzo Bernardo will be staying with SSC Napoli this spring after turning down several offers from throughout Europe. Bernardo had drawn interest from Spain, England, Romania, Belgium, Greece, and among several Italian Serie B and C teams. The strongest offer came from Serie B side Brescia which offered to buy joint ownership (50-50) of the young player - an offer Napoli refused.

So, Bernardo will stay with the club this spring, training 70-80% of the time with the first team but will be loaned out short term to the New York Stars to play in the prestigious Torneo Viareggio. While he remains available for the US U-20 team, some interesting whispers are coming out of the Castel Volturno clubhouse; that the Italian national team has asked the club for information on Bernardo.

If true, this comes as no surprise since not 48 hours after this article appeared on Soccer Times, a televised report appeared on Sky24 (Italian national news channel) claiming that the US was "calling up young Italian players" in a tone which indicated the Stars and Stripes were poaching foreign youth players. They seem to conveniently forget that the next great hope of the Azzuri, Giuseppe Rossi, was born in the same US state as Bernardo, New Jersey.

It only makes sense that someone from the Italian youth program would want to know more about Bernardo and possibly Nazzani since both are up and coming players within their Serie A teams' reserve systems. So, I wouldn't read to much into it...yet.

Bradley Goes Distance In Gladbach Draw With Hoffenheim

American midfielder Michael Bradley continues to solidify his place in the Borussia Moenchengladbach lineup, going the full 90 in today's 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim.

Elsewhere in Germany, Landon Donovan and Bayern Munich will be taking on Borussia Dortmund while Sal Zizzo and Steve Cherundolo may see action in Hannover's Sunday match against Energie Cottbus.

Over in France, Carlos Bocanegra went the distance for Stade Rennais in a 1-0 loss to Le Havre, picking up a 20th minute yellow card in the process.

Meanwhile, its hard to figure exactly what is holding Freddy Adu back at AS Monaco as another week passes without him even suiting up for the team, which drew FC Lorient 1-1.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Arena: You Want Beckham? I Want Ronaldinho

The Italian media is still full of speculation on whether AC Milan will be able to acquire the LA Galaxy's David Beckham. The difference now is that the smoke is starting to clear as reality sets in on both sides of the Atlantic.

According to La Gazetta Dello Sport, Posh and Becks are already sizing up a new home in Milan, the Villa Mozart, while Galaxy coach Bruce Arena seems resigned to accepting any outcome, being quoted on the team's website stating: "whatever happens, happens."

But Arena is also quoted in La Gazetta quipping that: "Milan wants Beckham? I want Ronaldinho and Messi." It can't be easy for Arena, who has taken the reigns of the league's most disappointing club, only to watch its two best players run off to Europe for a better deal. Donovan, I can understand since he has given the league and club several good years plus he has so some unfinished business in Europe.

Beckham, on the other hand, has not even been with the Galaxy eight months, let alone played for anything close to eight months. The league and the club pushed all the chips on the table for him last year so his flaking to Milan can't make it easy for league execs and Galaxy fans (who probably thought they'd finally be sticking it to Chivas this year).

As you probably know by now, I'd be happy for MLS to unload his huge salary since every indication is that he lacks commitment to his team and the league. Maybe they can use some of that money to buy Heath Pearce this summer and bring in other exciting, talented players who actually want to be there.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Transfer Window Closes

The January transfer window has closed without some of the moves American fans were hoping for as DaMarcus Beasley, Heath Pearce, Oguchi Onyewu, and Brian McBride (to name a few) will be staying put.

Since I'm in the middle of my own transfer, I'll let my friends Bob Wagman at Soccer Times and Greg Seltzer at No Short Corners fill you in.