Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Yesterday, Goal.com reported Ankaragucu were closing in on the illustrious capture with chairman Cengiz Topel publicly declaring that "Tomorrow he'll first come to Istanbul then to Ankara. We aim to secure a big signing as this year is our centenary. He [Vassell] will visit the city and our installations. Then he will make a decision. I hope we can include him in our squad."
Simply to verify this, images have emerged in the Turkish media which clearly show and document Vassell's rather-emphatic arrival - at least judging by the 3,000 fans who welcomed their potential new signing. The news has not received much coverage in England, perhaps given the transfer is one which will undoubtedly take many by surprise, but official confirmation should be announced over the next couple of days.
On a sidenote, Manchester City's official website will be re-launched tomorrow.
The Under-19 Republic Of Ireland international, who failed to make any senior appearances for Manchester City, has penned a two-year-deal and will surely be eager to pursue involvement in the first-team as the probability of breaching Mark Hughes' starting eleven strategy was dwindling even before the influx of fresh personalities arrived.
"I am very happy to have come to a major club with fanatic supporters. This is an opportunity for me to show off my talent," Daly said.
Monday, June 29, 2009
It's all over now but the celebrating - on Brazil's part. The South American powerhouse needed a 3-goal second-half to overcome a surprising US effort this past Sunday that saw the Yanks leading 2-nil at half-time. If there's anything the world soccer community can take away from this remarkably exciting FIFA tournament, it's that the USA's capabilities are slowly but surely improving.
A stunning 1st half by the Americans saw Clint Dempsey's lightly-hit volley help another fantastic Jonathan Spector cross into the far netting for the US's first shocking goal.
Brazil had some chances but Spector played amazingly well against the dangerous Robinho on one wing while Oneywu and Demerit helped thwart attacks in the middle of the box. In the 26th minute, a beautiful fast-paced counter-attack, started and finished by Landon Donovan, put the USA in a 2-0 lead.
Diehard soccer fans, however, knew that a 2-nil lead is the most worrisome lead in futbol and these concerns proved to have merit.
The second half started horrendously for the Yanks as Brazil's Luis Fabiano scored a quick turn-around shot from dead-center on the 18-yard line. Just that quickly, the lead was cut in half and major cracks started to show at the seams as the Brazilian attack grew stronger and stronger. Kaka was robbed later in the half when his header went over the line only to be punched out by US Goalkeeper Tim Howard (replays clearly showed a goal) but Brazil eventually equalized on a flurry of headers with Fabiano netting his second to knot the game at 2-2. Lucio put the game away for good with a powerful header off a corner-kick and while the USA mustered one last headed chance on goal, it was all over.
Some post-game thoughts:
- The US team needs more depth. Admittedly much of the problem stemmed from the controversial Red Card given to Michael Bradley late (87th minute) in the Spain game, forcing US Coach Bob Bradley to start Benny Feilhaber, a usual mid-game substitute.
- Some key players for the USA in this near-upset, included: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Charlie Davies (who needs experience but whose pace and energy were breathtaking), Tim Howard (who won FIFA's top GK award for the tournament), and Jonathan Spector.
- US Players who didn't play terribly well and underwhelmed critics, include: Jozy Altidore (looked lazy and lost the ball several times on his first touch despite a promising start to the match), Sacha Kljestan (who was totally sloppy and seemed overwhelmed), and Jonathan Bornstein (another sub who just didn't add anything to the attack when it was most desperately needed - he repeatedly would blunt US attacks but stopping a quick break to pass the ball backwards for little apparent reason).
- That quick second-half goal was the deal-breaker. Viewers got the impression that if the USA could've held off that 1st inevitable Brazilian goal for a while longer, they may have been able to escape with this victory.
- This match showed that while the USA can, on occasion, hang with the world powers of futbol, they still lack technical proficiency in the midfield (as well as confidence on the ball under pressure). Had the USA been able to play a more controlling style in the middle of the pitch, Brazil would have had far less chances and possibly become frustrated. As it was, the US turned the ball over to their opponents far too readily and (unfortunately) the results reflected that fact.
Only time will tell.
Kyoto pulled out a good win. Rookie Someya dribbled past a couple of players and took a shot that deflected off a Hiroshima defender. Mizumoto put in a nice header off a freekick.
Jubilo Iwata V. Kashiwa Reysol (2-3)
Kashiwa Reysol finally got an away win. Naruoka started off strong with a nice header from a Komano cross. Suganuma equalized from a long ball by Kurisawa. Nishi put Iwata up in front after a a reboud off the goal keeper. Suganuma equalized again after a mistake by the Jubilo defense. Tadanari Lee won it from a corner kick.
Urawa Reds V. Vissel Kobe (2-0)
Urawa Reds regained their form with a nice win. Edmilson put them up ahead after a good Hosogai cross. Takahara put them 2 ahead after a nice 25 yard shot.
JEF Chiba V. Omiya Ardija (0-2)
Omiya are pushing their way up the table with another win. Fujita started them off good with a good rebound. Fujita doubled their lead after a quick free kick.
FC Tokyo V. Shimizu S-Pulse (2-1)
FC Tokyo are another team on the rise. Hirayama put them ahead from the penalty spot. Johnsen answered back with a good half-volley. Ishikawa scored one of the goals of the season with a outside of the foot volley that it the crossbar and went in.
Montedio Yamagata V. Kawasaki Frontale (0-1)
Another win for a short handed Kawasaki team. Substitute Chong Tese won it from a nice run and assist by Juninho.
Yokohama F. Marinos V. Gamba Osaka (2-1)
Gamba recorded a somewhat fortutious win against the Marinos. Matsuda put the Marinos ahead with a good volley, but Gamba came out firing after half time as Endo put in a good volley. Hashimoto scored a lucky goal after keeper Iikura tried to save the ball from going out and instead putting it into Hashimoto's path.
Albirex Niigata V. Nagoya Grampus (2-1)
Niigata continued their good form with a win over Grampus. Matsushita's double won it for Niigata. The first was a rebound while the second was a good one-two. Sugimoto managed to scored a consolation.
Oita Trinita V. Kashima Antlers (1-2)
The "Derby" of the J-League, Oita, continued their winless run. They started off bright with a good goal by Kiyotake, but Ogasawara equalized with a nice volley. Iwamasu won it with a toe poke.
Table after round 15
Ok so its not set in stone, but according to all reports Luis Antonio Valencia is going to be a Manchester United player, perhaps even as soon as the end of this week. The fee is rumoured to be anywhere between £14 million and £19 million, me personally i'd expect it to be around the 16-17 mark but I (unfortunately) don't control Uniteds books!
So that basically spends Sir Alex Fergusons annual transfer budget of £20 million but, unless you've had your head firmly buried in a Costa Del Sol beach for the last month, we all know full well that there is another £80 million to be spent to replace some up and coming youngster by the name of Ronaldo. So who else is on the United radar??
Villa (thats David, not Aston) has repeatedly stated his desire to remain in Spain to ply his trade, which obviously makes Uniteds task to lure him a little more difficult....unless he's not that good at Geography!
Villa is a class act but does also have a downside, namely his age. Dimitar Berbatov aside United as a rule don't tend to buy players older than 26, the prefferred route (a la Ronaldo, Anderson, Silva's etc) is to get them in as young players and teach them how to play the United way. Villa however is 28 yrs old and as such doesn't really represent good value at the prices being quoted.
Sign or Swerve: Swerve!
Benzema is a lot more along the lines of a United type signing, he is young but has a massive reputation in Europe already. He has scored goals consistently domestically and in Europe and is not shy of the big stage, indeed he has scored against United on a couple of occasions now.
The big doubt about him is would he be able to do it in the Premiership? The Ligue 1, is not exactly known for its rough and ready attitude to defending and doesn't really have a lot of top line defenses for him to play against.....however as mentioned he has scored goals in Europe against top opposition and for a team that isn't really classed as elite.
The best part for United is that he's a real Striker, he's not a drop-off player like Rooney and Berbatov and so would suit the reds perfectly. The downside is that he seems set on staying in Lyon till after the World Cup, and United would face stiff competition from the likes of Madrid, Barca, Juventus, Inter....well most of the top sides in Europe!!
Sign or Swerve: Sign!
KLASS JAN HUNTELAAR
Huntelaar like Benzema, is an out and out striker and better than Benzema in the air which would give United a real all around threat. Probably not as quick or skillful as Benzema, but has played on the biggest stage and scored goals galore for an Ajax side who were not dominant in Ere Divisie at the time.
He would be a lot cheaper than Benzema or Aguero as he wants out of Madrid, however that means dealing with Madrid again who will probably try to bump the price up to recoup some of the Ronaldo fee.
Sign or Swerve: Benzema is priority, but if he's a no go SIGN!
Ribery has been touted as the ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, however thats based purely on his reputation. He has had success at Munich so far, but before that he was always one who was considered to have under achieved in his short career. Starting to show signs of being the player he can be, but in a league thats not the powerhouse it once was. Also couldn't do anything to help his side as they were blasted off the park by Barca.
A young and intelligent footballer, but no doubt Bayern would want big bucks and I don't think he's as good as some of the fees that are being talked about!
Sign or Swerve: Swerve
This is a player who was strongly linked with United in the wake of the Ronaldo to Madrid deal, but since then has been very quiet. A mercurial talent with a wand of a left foot, would be an ideal foil opposite Valencia to stretch the opposition across the park and allow Rooney and co. to do their damage.
However he has been known to get knocked over by a toddlers cough, and although Ronaldo never exactly made an effort to stay on his feet, some coaches and scouts inside OT think he would more than likely get fed up with life in the Premiership very quickly.
His flexibility to play in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation is great, as he can score goals, but can also play just off the striker from a midfield role which gives Ferguson great options. With Ronaldo already at Madrid, and Ribery likely to go (if anywhere!) to Barca or Madrid...Silva is being overlooked by Uniteds fellow superpowers, and at a probable cost of £25 million would be cheaper than Ribery!
Sign or Swerve: If Uniteds coaches don't have faith in Nani to improve, Sign!
Of course there are, and will be many more names United will be linked with between now and the end of the transfer window in August. Aguero of Atletico Madrid is the Wild Card who may surprise everyone by wearing a different red shirt next year, but if I had to bet my cash one a superstar to arrive its going to be one of the above!
Eto'o and Carlos Tevez together could be legendary. Looking forward to watching how everything shakes out this week.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Oliver Risser: The 28-year-old midfielder is currently with Norway's Manglerud Star. He is versatile and can move between the defense and midfield with some ease. He has a younger brother named Wilko who is also a soccer player.
Collin Benjamin: The 30-year-old defender has competed at Hamburg SV since 2001. He has over 100 appearances with the club and over 30 caps for his nation.
United kicks off its tour of Asia this summer when the club faces a Malaysian XI on July 18th at the magnificent Bukit Jalil National Stadium at the country's National Sports Complex near Kuala Lumpur.
Kick off is 10:30 BST.
Eight Years Later:
United's last venture into the country was eight years ago. An estimated 100,000 fans will fill the National Stadium in 2009 just as they did in the previous tour when United defeated the Malaysian XI 6-0.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
1. USA could benefit more from their tough experience recently playing Brazil, which should help their familiarity with Brazil's current players, style, and tactics.
2. The USA not only lost to Brazil already, 3-0, but looked fairly anemic in the process. Expect US players to use that performance as motivation for this rematch.
3. The US match versus Spain has built up their confidence - even if that confidence may be over-blown (according to some), it's still confidence and the power of positive thinking and personal faith can be profoundly affective in athletic events.
4. The weather may just play a factor. It's widely recognized that Brazilians aren't terribly fond of playing in cooler weather. It won't be freezing, necessarily, by game time but the match will be played at least 20-25 degrees cooler than the Brazilian players would probably prefer. In reality, this will likely have the least impact of these 7 factors, but it bears mentioning anyway.
5. The US MNT will be without the services of Michael Bradley who has been a strong midfield force for them during this tournament and in general for the US style of play. Can Benny Feilhaber (Michael Bradley's expected replacement) bring his defense up a notch to match his offensive abilities and mindset?
6. The US Men's National team, again, has everything to play for and nothing to lose. Brazil, on the other hand, is fully expected to win the match. Playing loose and relaxed can only be a psychological boost for the USA.
7. Expect this match to hinge on which team can score first. Brazil becomes ten times more dangerous with a goal under their belt. The US defense, which flummoxed Spain, is still porous and sloppy at times. If the US has to push forward in search of an equalizing goal, it'll inevitably lead to far more openings than the Yanks can afford, leaving Brazil with delicious openings that they're sure to exploit. However, if the US can get a shock goal somewhat early, it could rattle Brazil and boost the US confidence levels even higher. Furthermore, the same thing previously said about an early Brazil goal would be true for the USA , which has a strong counter-attacking play style. If Brazil has to push harder to equalize from an early US goal, it could lead to more opportunities for the US team to grow their potential early lead.
Despite a number of interesting psychological factors at work for this Finals match-up, it's hard for any soccer journalist to bet against Brazil, in general, regardless of the factors involved. I suspect this will be end up as a hard-fought Brazil victory, 2-1, all things considered.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Background: This is a really important fixture in terms of the future of these teams. Niigata are flying high and currently occupy second place while Grampus and performing below expectations at 9th. If Niigata win then they will look comfortable to stay where they are, but if Nagoya win then they will probably use this as a boost to push up the table. It is unclear whether new signing Joshua Kennedy will play, but it looks unlikely. Nagoya have been in terrible form and need Davi to start scoring. Niigata will look to continue their current form behind a solid defense.
Clears: Shows the difference in defense between the two clubs. Niigata have a alot more clears than Nagoya, but Nagoya have the 2nd best defense in the league. Nagoya does not allow alot of chances from opposing teams while Niigata does have cracks in its defense.
Dribbles: Clearly shows that both teams have individual quality. Pedro Junior and Davi both love to dribble, but Davi is more of a post player while Pedro Junior likes the free role. Should be interesting to see a clash between the two.
Projected Starting Line-Up:
One to Watch: Davi
Hasn't been up to snuff lately and will look to put the last game behind him.
Prediction: Nagoya 2 - Niigata 1
The competition is seen as a trial run ahead of next year’s World Cup and the first real test of South Africa’s ability to host such a large sporting contest. There are, of course, the obvious things to assess such as transport and infrastructure, however another important factor is the reaction of the South African public to the competition and their enthusiasm for the tournament.
In that respect it has been an unqualified success. From their Vuvuzela horns emitting a sound akin to a swarm of giant bees to the bizarre custom made hats, the passion of the South African fans has been a real highlight. That passion has been matched with no little skill on the pitch as their side has progressed to the semi-finals and put up a brave fight against 2002 World Champions Brazil. They were the better side for much of the game with Steven Pienaar a constant menace in midfield, but a late Dani Alves free-kick broke their hearts and sent the South American side through to the final to face the USA.
The home fans were devastated, but such reactions bode really well for next summer. In any major tournament the performance of the home side and the support of the home fans are vital to its success. South Africa’s performances on the pitch over the past few weeks certainly suggest they have what it takes to at least be competitive next year. Off the pitch there are no such doubts; the fans have passed with flying colours and they will already be counting down the days until next June when we kick off for real.
The Bosnian-born 20-year-old could have walked away on a free transfer in twelve months but Monchengladback were relentless in ensuring they received an adequate fee for their highly-rated creative midfielder. Despite his assumingly-juvenile age, Marin was selected in Jogi Löw’s provisional Euro 2008 roster and, since making his Bundesliga debut in 2007, has demonstrated an exceptional array of technical skills and trickery, drawing admiration as "One of the biggest talents in German football" from Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf.
"I am delighted the transfer has gone through," Marin told Werder Bremen's website."I would like to help Werder to reach their aims in the coming years and prove myself in the Europa League.
"This is an important step in my development and a great challenge. I would like to help take Werder far in all competitions with my performances and, at the same time, enhance my chances of representing the national team."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
My name is Tony DuLac and I'm a new blogger joining Soccer City FC. I'll be focusing mostly on topics related to the US soccer scene (primarily the Men's National Soccer team, to be precise). Recent developments have obviously provided tons of gristle for the mill, so to speak, and I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts with the rest of you (and hearing your feedback and comments as well, of course).
Until then, may all your shots hit the upper right-hand corner of the net. GOALLLLL!!!!
Achieving victory at the Stade Robert Champroux was paramount, even at this youthful stage of the season which has aged merely twelve matches, to disperse the possibility of early-season despondency and the reigning champions lived up to these hopes. Strolling to a 3-0 win extended Africa Sports’ string of consecutive triumphs to three, consequently lifting the Ivory Coast’s second-most successful club up to third place and in hunting distance of Issia Wazi FC.
After the recent results, Africa Sports stand on twenty points with a record of six wins, two draws and four losses - ASEC Mimosas lead the table on a superior tally of 27 points.
The unimposing consolation tag as ‘Best of the Rest’ is usually granted to the party who clamber across the finishing line in the wake of the dynamic favourites or heavyweights, salvaging several ounces of pride in doing so but effectively beleaguered in the knowledge that silverware will remain elusive. Falling into this catagory are recently-promoted Odd Grenland, who have accustomed back to the tune of the top-flight quite outstandingly and wisely stand in third position, as have current runners-up Molde FK, having leapt from a lowly-ninth in 2008, and IK Start.
Less excuses can be afforded by last season's top trio of Stabaek IF (7th), Fredrikstad FK (11th) and Tromso IL (13th), whom will in all probability even fail to land into the second-rate ensemble congregating behind Rosenborg. This, supplemented by the knowledge that four varying champions have graced the division in as many editions, acts as verification that the Tippeligaen notoriously suffers from an erratic temperament and a charming scale of competition and unpredictability.
Throughout the 1990s, Rosenborg menaced Norwegian club football and developed an unbreakable, virtually magnetic attraction with the championship. Thirteen titles were devoured in an uninterrupted winning sequence which stretched from 1992 to 2004, thus bringing regular continental club competition to the Lerkendal Stadion. Continuous access to the Champions League helped boost revenue figures and inevitably elevated Rosenborg to an unrivalled financial state in the country. Flamboyantly embellished with a grand inventory of decorations and accolades, Trondheim’s principal club have recently stuttered in their quest to replicate the supremacy exerted from the previous decade.
Two preceding seasons tangled astray in the mid-table wilderness, consisting of a couple of fifth-place finishes since their most recent league success in 2006, will be forgotten if Rosenborg persevere with their incredible unbeaten streak - ten victories and five draws which have yielded 35 points.
In the latest round of fixtures, Kris Stadsgaard quickly struck after sixteen minutes to ensure the entire points haul were heading into Rosenborg’s possession. Second-placed Molde FK relied on an injury-time winner from Rune Ertsas as Lillestrom SK were overseen by a slender one-goal advantage. Elsewhere, Odd Grenland won the clash of the promoted sides with a 2-1 victory over Sandefjord Fotball.
Where the halcyon days of besieging trophy after trophy are over, or in temporarily suspension, Rosenborg are still the key player on the continental front and have lived out the dreams that many can only harbour - the prominent highlights featuring a UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final feat in 1996/1997 and progressing as far as the group stages on eleven occasions between 1995 and 2006. Right now, though, reasserting their right to the domestic throne must be given top priority and, based on this season’s blistering form, Rosenberg are difficult to oppose as envisaged champions.
Read on - Tottenham Hotspur: Giovani Dos Santos' Brace Powers Mexico Past Venezuela via Football London
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Celtic accompany the mounting queue to acquire Venezuelan attacking midfielder Juan Arango, one of La Liga's most regular and impressive performers, from destitute Real Mallorca.
Attention has been widely acknowledged from Stoke City, Borussia Monchengladbach and Trabzonspor, but do the Bhoys possess the financial clout to meet Mallorca's €4m valuation?
Read on -- Celtic Submit Bid For Real Mallorca Playmaker Juan Arango via Goal.com.
The former Aston Villa captain represented the bianconeri on 27 occasions but qualms over his future in Turin intensified when the arrival of Fabio Cannavaro was unveiled, creating a fierce situation whereby the two central defensive positions would be disputed by the Italian national trio of Giorgio Chiellini, Nicola Legrottaglie and 126-capped Cannavaro alongside Mellberg.
Wind the clock back twelve months and Mellberg arrived at Juventus with an envious reputation as one of the most reliable defenders in the Premier League, a resolute structure and a calming figurehead requisite in a potentially incoherent rearguard. Several unsettling performances for the Old Lady did not, however, dislodge Olympiacos’ interest as the Greeks aim to channel the wise experience accumulated by Mellberg into a thriving conquest on Europe.
Juventus can also expect to reel in a championship bonus of £430,000 if Olympiacos extend their Super League domination to a successive fourth crown.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Image via Calcio Catania via Flickr.com
May 7, 1988 (Age:21)
Once considered the "Golden Boy" of Japanese football, Morimoto has been building up his reputation in Europe instead of Japan. The youngest player and goalscorer in J-League history, has had a fine season in Serie A where he has scored 7 goals in 23 League games. Some notable performances include a brace against A.S. Roma and a goal against title-challengers Juventus. Morimoto has played for Japan during the FIFA World Youth Championships and the Olympics.
Morimoto has often been compared to the Brazilian Ronaldo. He has both size and pace coupled with a good sense for goal. Several of his goals this season have been poaching efforts while others have been good individual skill. Serie A has made him into a more physical player and his technique is also developing nicely.
Morimoto has been linked to several EPL clubs this summer, notably Manchester United and Tottenham. This may seem like premature moves for the young striker, but they could be crucial ones in the effort to develop him into a world class striker. On the International level he has not been called up to the senior national team, to the dismay of this writer, but if he continues to improve then he will have a chance at international success.
Whilst nothing is yet 100% certain in the yet another Carloz Tevez transfer saga, its 99.9% certain he will not be pulling on a red shirt at Old Trafford next season. One of the most popular players of the last 10 years, Tevez is as hard a worker as you are ever going to find in this age of Prima Donna strikers who are more connected to their own reflection than they are to the fans who help pay their wages!!
Everywhere Tevez plays he develops a connection with the fans that only comes from playing with your heart, and showing a commitment to the cause equalled only by the fans themselves! Gone are the days of footballers living at the end of your street (unless your a bigwig or rich bod yourself!) and having a kickabout with the local ASBO dodgers, now if you even dare ask for an autograph your glared at with contempt.
Tevez is different, he acknowledges the fans on and off the pitch and feeds off their energy, indeed I remember a game last year where United were struggling with Berbatov playing up front. Tevez began to warm up, and with a chant of "Fergie sign him up" ringing in his ears, the man thumped his fist on the United badge and blew a kiss to the crowd......it didn't need explaining, he was telling us the fans that he wants to stay but its out of his control!! I'll freely admit that his substitution against Arsenal in that last home game and the subsequent spontaneous ovation was one of the most moving moments i've ever had at Old Trafford.....Carlos has a GENUINE connection with his fans.
So what went wrong that has led to his exit?
Firstly I think you look to Dimitar Berbatov, his arrival for £30 million meant that suddenly Fergie has 3 strikers that he needs to find playing time for and unfortunately his demeanor and work ethic lacks a lot when compared to Tevez. Put yourself in Tevez's shoes watching Berbatov arrogantly stroke that penalty at the keeper in the Carling Cup final, or watch him game after game make a half hearted effort to chase someone down only to give up after 10 yards.....meanwhile Tevez busts a gut in every minute but can barely get 2 games in a row under his belt! It must hurt to know that your manager thinks that an overrated mopey poser is more worthwhile to his team than you are.
Secondly we have to look at Tevez himself, unfortunately the choice he has made in dealing with Kia Joorabchian is an unwise one. Joorabchian looks and acts every inch the shady dealer, shielding the truth with one arm whilst manipulating his clients into doing what suits him best with the other. The simple fact that he technically OWNS Carlos Tevez is a problem South American football is coming up against more and more, and to be honest its very very wrong....in fact it borders on slavery.
How Carlos Tevez cannot have the biggest say in where he plays football is beyond me, but thanks to Joorabchian thats the situation he's in.
Finally we look to Sir Alex Ferguson and the realisation that he simply didn't rate Carlos Tevez as highly as the fans/media does. Being honest I can see his point, he's not a pure goalscorer like Ruud Van Nistlerooy, and he's not the genius passer/creator of a Rooney or Cantona.....its simply his work ethic that makes him worth his place!
When you imagine United paid in the region on £15 million to secure the 2 year loan deal Tevez was on, and now Joorabchian wants £25 million more for a permanent transfer of his playing rights, can anyone reading this honestly tell me they think Tevez is worth £40 million plus?
There is also a rumour that Tevez has not acquiesced to Fergies demand that he learn English, and this has caused a rift as teamtalks and instructions have to go through a translator slowing down Sir Alex's valuable time during games.
If you look at the above three contributors its clear to see that Carlos simply didn't feel wanted at Old Trafford, at least not by the management anyway! When you score 4 splendid goals against Blackburn in a Carling Cup tie and still don't get selected for the next game you have to wonder what the criteria is!?
Fergie says that players have to realise that at clubs like United, Barca, Chelsea, Liverpool, Madrid and more, you cannot play every game because other have to be kept match sharp in case they are required.
However sometimes my I think Sir Alex forgets that players like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer come once in a lifetime, no longer will players score goals regularly and settle for a place on the bench.....especially when they see another player (in this case Berbatov) struggling to find his place in the side and play well!
He has openly admitted that he simply wants to be in the starting line-up more often that he isn't, and at United you just don't get guaranteed that kind of thing.
Carlos you will be missed by all the fans here in Manchester (although the Bluehalf may well be cheering your name next season!) and no matter who you return playing for, even if it is the hated Liverpool, the mark of your popurlarity is that you will still be welcomed and cheered to the rafters. We as United fans can only hope and pray for that 00.1% chance that you might still come back......if not I envy the fans who will no doubt love you as much as we do!!
Soccer City FC's MLS Jersey Sponsorship article made today's edition -- Around The League - 06.22.2009
Check 'em out -- MLS Daily
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The academy boss noted on City's website:
If, and it's a big if, this actually went through along with Chelsea being able to prize Carlos Tevez away from Manchester City, then Chelsea, in my mind, would be the front runners for the 2009-10 Premiership title.
26-year-old Irish-born winger Bryan Byrne, currently with the Ventura County Fusion, owns and operates Soccer Cleats 101. He kindly sat down with Soccer City FC to discuss his collegiate and professional careers, his website, and the important factors that go into a good pair of cleats.
Q. What was your fondest memory of competing with Kildare County in Ireland?
I think my debut is my fondest memory. I started with the team as an under 21 player, and became the first player in club history to have come from the local Sunday league! I had to work really hard to break into the team, and I got an assist that night, which made it even more pleasing. If I was to go with my least fond I would have to say the hairdryer treatment our Coach Dermot Keeley gave us, although it was always merited!
Q. How did you end up stateside with the UCSB Gauchos?
Dermot Keeley’s son Alan was playing at UCSB, and when he returned to Ireland, the UCSB coach’s came recruiting for more players. It was not long after my debut and they heard I was a quick winger. Dermot recommended me and they came to watch me play, as it happened I was just what they was looking for. After the coaches described Santa Barbara to me, and described their plans for the UCSB team, I was in!
Q. What is your assessment of collegiate soccer here in the U.S.?
I was very shocked when I arrived over here. To be honest it kind of floored me! I think at the time my ego had exploded as I got a lot of press before coming over here. When I started playing with the team I soon discovered that I was nowhere near the level of some of the guys. After playing collegiate and professionally I can honestly say that the level of US soccer is rapidly on the rise. I am very much against younger players leaving college early to pursue a professional career!
With how MLS is structured, my best advice for younger players is to take advantage of having the opportunity to get a college degree and train daily. In MLS you can be dropped at any moment, and there is now no reserve league, how are players supposed to improve? I look at my Alma Mater UCSB and the players who have chosen to leave early and think about the opportunities they have missed by leaving school early!
Q. What are/have been some of the challenges and rewards of playing professional soccer?
The biggest challenge for me was consistently playing. MLS is structured in a way that does not really improve the development of younger players. When I was at New England we played one week on three weeks off! Personally, I need a run of games to get going. In college it was not until mid season that I really got going. Now that there are no reserve leagues this challenge become a greater issue.
There are many rewards. Just knowing that you have an impact on young players is an amazing feeling. My favorite part was the ‘Questions and Answers’ segment, as you really get to share with kids what it is all about. Growing up my Dad always talked about George Best and how he would spend hours outside alone just kicking a ball against a wall, and that was something I always wanted to emulate. Sharing stories and setting goals for younger kids is exciting to think about!
Q. How did the idea for the website come about?
The idea for the website came from my love and experience with soccer. I remember one day trying to find a review for a pair of Lotto cleats I was thinking of buying and really finding nothing. After some research, I found some very generic sites that all had the same information. Thus, I thought it would be a good idea just to write about the ones I wore...from there I got some positive feedback and the site has rapidly grown.
My goal is to supply relevant information from my experiences with a pair of cleats. In the last few months, I have been able to increase the number of reviews by actually wearing cleats in practice and in games. With so many new pairs hitting the markets, it makes sense so other people know what to expect from cleats before they buy!
Q. Have you heard back from readers regarding your great reviews of the numerous soccer cleats out there?
Yes, it has been great! I get emails from people asking questions and some who just want to give their opinion of the reviewed cleats. I encourage everyone to comment and share their experiences with a pair. I am only one review, and I know other people have differing experiences (or in some cases extremely similar) with the same pairs. The more info that is available, the easier it will be for others to know if the cleats would actually suit them, if anyone wants to leave information about the cleats they wear please feel free to do so.
Q. Any future plans or additions to the website?
We are currently adding a new one page solution for people looking for a particular ‘type’ of cleat. It is going to be in a ‘best of’ format. We are also in talks with an interactive soccer website about sharing our content with them. That will be something to watch out for. As always though, we will be looking to provide the newest personal reviews with no bias!
Q. What is the most important factor when choosing the perfect soccer cleat?
Without a doubt it is find comfort in your style. Ronaldo or Messi would not be great players if they consistently wore boots that did not suit their feet. It is not all about being the one to stand out in the newest or most sought after shoes. Once you find your niche stick with it. And of course make sure you read reviews to ensure you have information on what you are getting!
And don't forget to check out the other journalists and bloggers who have spoken with Soccer City FC -- Soccer Journalists - Soccer Bloggers: Interview List
Ever since the fall of 2006, when Major League Soccer first announced the new initiative, teams in the young league have been allowed to put advertisers’ brands on the front of their jerseys. While this was a new thing in the world of major sport in the United States, it brought MLS more in line with the rest of the world, especially the older, more established leagues. Now, with teams signing multimillion dollar deals with companies known, unknown, and occasionally reviled, the question no longer is "Will this work?" but rather "Why does any team not have a sponsor on their jersey?" Despite this, four teams remain without it. Some of the reasons vary by team, but some are universal.
First, the teams without sponsors are the New England Revolution, Kansas City Wizards, FC Dallas, and Colorado Rapids. Working backwards, the easiest team to explain the lack of jersey sponsor for is the Rapids. According to rumor, Colorado had a jersey sponsor all lined up before the season, but this agreement fell through at the last minute. The fact that the team removed the wordmark from the front of this year’s jerseys seems to support that, especially as the same thing happened when DC United eventually signed with Volkswagen. In their case, it does not seem to be from a lack of effort, but simply a deal not getting done yet.
No wordmark in 2009
For FC Dallas, this has been a year to forget in many ways. The team has been one of the worst in MLS on the field, and the attendance has been, to put it bluntly, pathetic. Many MLS fans, and specifically Dallas fans, point the finger for these troubles directly at the team’s front office, and this would seem to extend to the jersey sponsor issue. As a whole, the team seems to be profitable, due mainly to the number of youth fields surrounding Pizza Hut Park, so maybe the team feels less pressure to get a deal done, but it seems wasteful to go this long without one.
For the Kansas City Wizards, this season and next would seem to be a consolidation season. At the moment, the team is stuck playing in Community America Ballpark, a stadium made for baseball that only holds just over 10,000 spectators. On the positive side, they have a stadium on the way, on the site of the former Bannister Park Mall, and with a committed group of local owners who seem to be making headway as far as recognition for the team is concerned, the future looks bright. I would guess that as soon as they have their stadium ready, a sponsor for the jersey will closely follow.
Finally, you have the New England Revolution. For years this team has been among the top in MLS on the field, but the product’s off the field branding leaves much to be desired. To many, it seems that this team is being run as a write-off for the Kraft family, along with date filler for Gillette Field, so that they can support the main tenant, and the Kraft’s darling, the New England Patriots. It does not seem that making money on the Revolution is not the goal of the Krafts, and this attitude would explain the lack of sponsorship on the jersey.
None of the above is meant to mean that getting a sponsor on your jersey is easy. On the contrary, finding the right mix of company, money, and time will usually take quite a bit of effort. As it stands, currently, three teams in Major League Soccer have sponsors that are Multi-Level Marketing companies (Los Angeles Galaxy with Herbalife, Real Salt Lake with Xango, and the San Jose Earthquakes with Amway Global). Many teams, though, do not want to associate themselves with those companies. Along the same lines, MLS rules forbid teams from signing sponsors that are gambling related or hard liquor, further restricting the teams from companies that have been proven to be quite popular in Europe (for examples, see Sevilla FC, Blackburn Rovers, and West Ham United). As Don Garber said at the time of the announcement, "We don’t want the local bail bonds company on the front of the Columbus Crew jersey."
This point remains valid, but the problem is that those are the sorts of businesses that are willing to pay more money to be attached to something more mainstream. Most of the time, teams could get more money for shorter deals, but naturally, they want longer deals so they can lock in a revenue stream for several years to come. Finally, the teams cannot sign such deals with competitors of those companies that sponsor the league, as that would water down the message the league is sending. With all these complicating factors, it is easy to see why the Rapids deal fell through, and why certain teams do not even seem to be trying to get jersey sponsors.
The methods of attracting viable sponsorship have varied a great deal between the various teams that do have sponsors. In the cases of DC United and Columbus Crew, companies have decided to become league sponsors, but have added a team level sponsorship as well. Other teams, such as the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders, signed sponsors that are not league sponsors at this time, but are mainstream companies that everybody recognizes. Houston is a bit different, as they pulled a much more local company than did the rest of the league. Every company feels differently about how their brand can be best represented in MLS, provided they have interest in the league to begin with. They could sign up to be a league sponsor, and have their names on the ad boards along with commercials during telecasts, or they can sign with an individual team.
The most extreme example of this phenomenon is the New York Red Bulls, who had the energy drink buy the entire team and the new stadium that is being built in order to get their logo splashed across the jersey. A popular route is to do a combination of both, a la Glidden and Volkswagen, and the most likely jersey sponsorship I believe that will happen next year is Panasonic appearing on the jerseys of Philadelphia Union. They are already big sponsors of the Chester Stadium, along with being MLS sponsors, so that would seem the logical next step.
Having front of jersey sponsorship available has given the league’s finances a great shot in the arm, even if certain groups of fans have complained about the commercialization of the league. In its fourteenth season, the league seems to have moved ever closer to cementing their place in the American sports landscape, and the money from this has been a large reason why. As the league moves forward, and the salary cap grows, teams will no longer be able to afford not having a jersey sponsor, and the sooner those four teams can get one, the better off the league as a whole will be.
You could say that the upshot was a predictable continuation of the status quo as Dinamo have once again sauntered to the pinnacle of the Croatian perch, but given that Hajduk topped the table, ironically as a consequence of conquering Dinamo in February’s derby clash, the responsibility for their shortcomings cannot be shifted beyond themselves. Instead Dinamo captured an unassailable lead when they protected their seven-point advantage by defeating NK Slovan Koprivnica with two matches remaining, instigating a curtain fall on all hopes and dreams belonging to the Hajduk faithful.
The perfect synopsis can be found in the domestic cup competition, yet another source of frustration for Hajduk as the spotlight was infuriatingly glistening towards Dinamo. Rather than enduring a mortifying shame at the hands of their ardent foe, which threatened to become a reality after subsiding to a 3-0 deficit in the first leg, Nikola Kalinic (2) and Mladen Bartolovic salvaged a penalty shootout for the impelling Split-based outfit in the return tie.
NK Dinamo Zagreb - UEFA Champions League, second qualifying round
HNK Hajduk Split - UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round
HNK Rijeka - UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round
NK Slaven Koprivnica - UEFA Europa League, first qualifying round
Croatia Sesvete were the only club who could potentially be relegated - they entered a two-legged play-off against NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac but Sesvete emerged victorious by winning 2-1 on aggregate to preserve their status.
The expansion of the First Football League to 16 clubs in the 2009-2010 season resulted in four clubs from the second-tier to be automatically promoted:
NK Istra 1961
NK Lokomotiva Zagreb
Mario Mandzukic - 16 (NK Dinamo Zagreb)
Nikola Kalinic - 15 (HNK Hajduk Split)
Bojan Vrucina - 15 (NK Slaven Koprivnica)
Ermin Zec - 14 (HNK Sibenik)
Anas Sharbini - 13 (HNK Rijeka)
Senijad Ibricic - 12 (HNK Hajduk Split)
NK Dinamo Zagreb - 11
HNK Hajduk Split - 6
NK Zagreb - 1
Kawasaki Frontale V. Oita Trinita (2-0)
Oita's terrible run continues with 11 loses in a row in league. Renatinho scored a brace for Kawasaki. One from a nice run combined with a good through pass from Yabu and the second was a header from a Yokoyama cross.
Shimizu S-Pulse V. Montedio Yamagata (4-1)
Montedio continue to spiral down after being in the top half of the league. A mistake in the defense led to a Hara goal while a Ichikawa shot took a deflection and went in. Yamagata pulled one back with a nice header by Hirose, but Okazaki retaliated with a fine collection and volley shot. Johnsen poked one in to finish the rout.
Nagoya Grampus V. JEF Chiba (0-1)
Chiba recorded a surprising win against AFC contendors Grampus. Fukai netted the only goal after a good through pass by Alex.
Gamba Osaka V. Albirex Niigata (0-2)
Gamba without talismatic midfielder Endo, suffered a defeat at the hands of Niigata. Yano scored off an interesting volley that struck the ground and bounced over the defender and goalie on the line. Richardes scored an absolute blinder from distance.
Kashima Antlers V. Jubilo Iwata (1-0)
League leaders Kashima secured an important win against Jubilo. Without Lee Keun-Ho Jubilo were unable to score. Koroki scored a tap-in from a cross by Nozawa.
Omiya Ardija V. Kyoto Sanga (2-1)
Omiya finally got back on track with a win against Sanga. Mato scored off of a freekick while Diego pulled one back from the pk spot. Shikamoto scored a Ronaldo-esque freekick that dipped past the keeper.
Kashiwa Reysol V. FC Tokyo (0-3)
All 3 goals were quality in their own right. Ishikawa scored a nice helf-volley after a good pass from Bruno Quadros. Cabore also scored a good volley after a flick by Hirayama. Then Cabore returned the favor with a tricky back-heel that set-up Hirayama who put the ball after from 20 meters into the top left-hand corner.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima V. Vissel Kobe (4-3)
A game with many goals started off terribly for Kobe as a Hattori cross was flicked into their own goal. Then Makino scored a nice volley from a Takagi set-up. But Vissel Kobe stormed back with returnee Okubo scoring a penalty and Ishibitsu chipped the keeper from outside the 18-yard box. Mogi was free in the box and scored to put Kobe ahead, but Kashiwagi scored and Sato put the finishing blow a minute later with a lucky back-heel.
Yokohama F-Marinos V. Urawa Reds (2-0)
Marinos recorded a good win without defender Nakazawa. Watanabe scored an easy goal after a good cross from Sataka. Sakata also set-up Yamase's goal.
Table after Round 14
Highlights of all of the goals this week.
"When you come and look around the place, it sells itself. This is a massive club with one of the best stadiums in the Championship, let alone League One."Listen to the entire interview here at BBC Sport -- Michael Nelson Interview
Football London Transfer Rumours -- Tottenham Hotspur And West Ham United Looking To Bolster Squads In 2009-10
Friday, June 19, 2009
For more J-League analysis be sure to check out Football Fantasista
Here is this week's match of the day.
Gamba Osaka v. Albirex Niigata
Background: Finally after two weeks of no games the J-League can finally resume. Gamba should be a little rusty after not playing for 2 whole weeks while Niigata's recent 1-2 defeat against bottom-dwellers Oita Trinita in the Nabisco Cup should help keep them in match fitness. Gamba are still without top scorer Leandro, but they still have the deadliest attack in the league with 26 goals. Niigata will also come out strong led by NT forward Kisho Yano and flamboyant Brazilian Pedro Junior. Gamba had 3 players on international duty: Yasuhito Endo, Satoshi Yamaguchi, and Hideo Hashimoto.
Dribble: This really defines the style of play. Niigata have high dribbling which shows that they tend to use longball while Gamba have low dribbling which shows more of a finesse passing game.
Cross: The high amount of crossing for Gamba shows that despite having a good passing game, they like to play the ball through the channels instead of breaking through the middle. This also shows that Niigata do not play with wingers, but like to make through passes.
Clear: Probably the most important attribute. Niigata's high amount of clear clearly highlights the effectiveness of the their defense. But the downside is that with all of these clears it must mean that they are susceptible in the back. Gamba on the other hand have a low clearance rate, but they have one of the weakest defenses in the league.
Blue- Gamba Osaka
Red- Albirex Niigata
Projected Starting Line-up:
Gamba Osaka: 4-2-2
Albirex Niigata: 4-3-3
One to Watch: Michihiro Yasuda (Gamba Osaka LB)
Lost his starting spot, but with injuries besetting the squad has regained playing time. He has great last year, but hasn't been able to replicate that this year. Was called up last year, but this year because of the lack of playing time he hasn't.
Gamba Osaka 3-1 Albirex Niigata
Graphic Source: Found here at Soccer Yahoo Japan
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I'm sure some of you are laughing at the question already, and I've heard it mentioned on message boards, blogs, radio phone ins and by any vagrant with a pint of Stella in his hand down at the King George Pub......How can you be better without the World's best player?!
Well firstly the arguement over who is the World's best player can wait for another day, personally give me the glorious passing ability of Andres Iniesta over any of the others but thats just me.
Secondly I'm going to give you a half filled in team sheet for opening day against Birmingham, admittedly its a bit of a hypothetical but stick with me
Van Der Sar
Now that teamsheet (apart from the missing names) won't be too far away from the actual opening day come August, so I'm now going to give you 2 options to choose from and you decide what you think makes the better line-up on paper
Player X - Cristiano Ronaldo
Player Y - Ji-Sung Park
Player Z - Dimitar Berbatov
Player X - Luis Antonio Valencia
Player Y - David Silva
Player Z - Carlos Tevez
My point is basically that if you look objectively at the 2 lineups above then there's not as much between them as people make out. Plus without Ronaldo you will get better dressing room harmony, and the bonus of Wayne Rooney playing in his best and most effective position.
Obviosuly the players United sign may be different, but Valencia (whilst not World Class) is a pacy tricky winger who has massive potential and if United can sign someone such as a Silva or Ashley Young to play wide left, or indeed get the most out of a so far ineefective Nani then you immediately are back to playing the Manchester United way!
Ronaldo is not going to produce 42 goals seasons every year, and as much a of a privelage as it was to watch that from the stands, we won the league last year with him only playing to a quarter of his potential and a fraction of the commitment!
Alex Ferguson has done this on numerous occasions before, way back in 1996 we sold Mark Hughes, Andrei Kanchelskis and Paul Ince all in the same off season and people thought he'd gone mad......not a bit of it! He'd seen the special group of young players coming through in the form of Nevilles Gary and Phil, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Wes Brown. We were beaten 3-1 on opening day by Aston Villa leading to Alan Hansens now infamous "You don't win anything with kids" remark.
The following May United were champions of the land and following Eric Cantona's fairytale return from his Kung-Fu induced suspension, he notched the winner and United were in proud possession of their second League & Cup double in 3 years.
So my message to all you people who think "You don't win anything without Cristiano Ronaldo" is remember the Hansen and how Fergie made him look silly in front of the world!
Fergie knew Ronaldo was going to leave and has a plan of how to move the club forward without him.
I ask again, are Manchester United better without Cristiano Ronaldo........maybe, maybe not. But Manchester United goes on regardless and would you bet against Fergie making all the rest look very silly yet again??