Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Top form

It's still early in the season for Mexican club soccer, but some key players, like Cuauhtemoc Blanco, for example, are in fine form, as Luis highlights in his latest article. Thing is, most MLS players have only training camp scrimmages to match up against a number of players competing regularly in tough league games.

I'm wondering if this will play a role. Preseason MLS teams traditionally do poorly against outside competition, which could explain why Bradley may rely heavily on his European callups in the next match.

More thoughts

Another good argument that popped up in my Inbox, this one from Ryan Dempsey (who ok'd me naming him as author). Ryan likes to talk soccer and is always willing to offer an opinion, though he's careful to state that these are just his own ideas.

In my opinion, there are three ways that Beckham’s arrival can help the MLS and they sort of are interrelated.

  1. The style of play in MLS is what creates the illusion that the level of play is inferior to the rest of the world.(although improving the style will also increase the level a bit as well). If he can help improve the STYLE of play, it will simply look more entertaining to the naked eye and that will improve the overall perception of the league and its players. Fan support will be a byproduct of that. The Argentine league is an example. The league and its players are good. The STYLE of play is attacking and entertaining. But I wouldn’t say that that league , which is of my favorites, is as far superior to MLS, in terms of LEVEL of play, as many would think. And many of the greatest talents to exit Argentina for Europe, become flops.(although I recognize that argentians are known for being hits In Europe as well) The fact is that MLS teams are just as good as Mexican Teams and you will see that during head to head matchups. Those same Mexican teams have a strong reputation of beating up on Argentine teams in the big south American tournaments. Some use the argument that those games mean more to Mexican teams and that is why they do so well in those south American tournaments. This may be true but its also true. One way to find out how we fare is to enter a team or two into those tournaments as well AND/OR win the Champions Cup again to see how we fare in a meaningful game against a CF Internacional or Barcelona . MLS teams losing to Costa Rican clubs on a regular basis is not good for the league. This is considered one of the weaker regions of the world of soccer. We have to dominate this region if we , at the club level, are to be taken seriously. Which brings me to…..
  2. The STYLE of play can improve if we bring more players who practice that style at a world class level. Beckham’s arrival can help us do that. He HAS to act as an advocate to the league during his stay here and after his retirement. If he does this, I believe that more players will come( and it will help offset all the hatin’ that comes out of Beano Cooke’s old ignorant mouth). The more players like that on the field per game the more the game will improve in terms of the level and style of play. We need everyone from your Rivaldo, Denilson, Bellamy, Puyol, Raul, to your Rodrigo Palacio, Nilmar, Theo Walcott. We need guys who are beginning careers with talent, guys who are established and in their prime and guys who are past their prime but established and experienced. We need guys from South Ameirica, Europe, Africa, Asia and of course North America . Even Austrailia. We need to broaden our horizons in terms of scouting. Beckham presence, the lifestyle in the US, the style and level of the play, the challenge of helping out a new league with great potential, the exposure to other big teams etc. can all be used to close deals. This will not only improve the product on our home soil and produce residual talent (domestic and foreign), But it will help us dominate the region and give us more opportunities to play(and defeat) other respected teams in the world in meaningful games.
  3. Beckham’s experience alone with two of Europe’s biggest teams in two of Europe ’s top leagues would probably mean that he know a thing or two about how things are done behind the scene’s. Now granted, USA has a different culture and different economic system. But David has probably seen some common denominators between England and Spain , two countries that are ALMOST just as different to each other as they are to USA . You and I both know that he has a lot of advice that our commissioners and general managers could use. He needs to be either a paid advisor to the league or simply work for the league himself when he has retired from playing. I think the league needs help in terms of how it markets the sport, how the sport is televised, how it finds new talent, how the refs influence the game, how to continue to improve the level and style of play, what types of relationship we have with the rest of the world of football, how the entire system is run. I wish he could have enough power to weed out all the soccer dad’s, who don’t know the game, from important positions within US soccer and MLS.

Reader excerpts

My latest piece for, focused on the stigma of MLS, has garnered some interesting reader replies.

1)We are all fooling ourselves to think that MLS deserves any respect right now. The reality is this, until we start winning trophies against other leagues, we will never get any respect. It really is that simple. That is why the Super Liga is important. And, I think MLS should enter the Copa Libertadores.Until then, bringing older players from Europe is not going to elevate the leagues standing in the eyes of Footballing world. Trophies do.

2)Juan Pablo Garcia is making what he believes is the best decision for himself. No one could argue with that. I'm sure that he probably heard it all the time, "why play in MLS when you can be a star in your own domestic league". This is why. The Mexican leagues aren't very well respected either around the world. Even though their national team is highly ranked, you can count on one hand how many Mexican nationals are playing top flight football in Europe or even South America. Every player should aspire to play at the highest level. Playing for your country should not be dependent on where you play your game. MLS has lost an exiciting player. That may or may not contribute to others deciding not to take a chance on playing in the US.
Unfortunatly, it shouldnt be your national team coach making that decision for you.

3) People think MLS is inferior? Duh. Seria A thinks every other league is. La Liga also. P'ship also. Why the insecurity and need for the average fans and media perspective? 10 years ago the Mexicans thought out Nats still sucked. Even a mere 5. Now they show respect but still deride the style we play. That will never end. Who cares? No one ever gives anyone credit in the soccer world. Whether it's strength of league, style of play everyone is a homeboy to the end. Your article seems very simplistic and panders to the insecurity and ignorance of the average casual viewer here. The league is scouted more than ever. more offers than ever. More players are showing success abroad stepping out right from MLS. Maybe Garcia isn't as good as he or many think he is? Maybe his style just can't hack it here? He said it was tough, what more do you want? Do you actually think people are looking to give a non soccer US nation, with politics and fear of US soccer growth, any credit at all. Best part is you quote Peter V. A guy who is way overpaid by MLS satndards who people in LA would love to be rid of, especially withthe naive idiotic remarks he just made recently. Gee, he makes 120k a year, sucks, earns a decent salary for s guy that bad and he complains? Rich. Sorry, Andrea, this is a common sense article for those who understand the game here, and how it works elsewhere, and you try to turn it into some sort of epiphany that MLS supporters don't want to hear or understand.

Pistol Pete

Pete Vagenas used to be the captain of the LA Galaxy, back before Landon Donovan assumed that post. Pete captained the squad back when they won their 2005 MLS title, and he's always been honest and staightforward with reporters.

Knowing him as a member of the local media, I was pretty sad to see a statemant he made to Sean Wheelock, working as a correspondent for the BBC, get taken out of context and twisted all around the world as Pete resenting David Beckham's arrival to the Galaxy.

The original BBC radio clip doesn't even have the entire interview, but just a snippet of Pete's answer, which appeared to be in regards to how were some players who make a lot less going to feel about Beckham's large salary - could there be any resentment that they were making so little?

As frank as ever, and well aware of how little some of his teammates make, Pete responded, "I think people that say ‘no’ would be lying. I think at first, as we all are fans of soccer, he is David Beckham, and a wise man once told me, ‘you are worth what you negotiate.’ But at the same time, of course there is resentment. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t, but at the same time, he’s not stealing the money. So on one end you say ‘more power to him’ and the other end ‘why can’t I be getting some of that?’"

His statement was basically an indictment not of Beckham, but, rightly so, of a league structure that has other players making very little in comparision. Yet all around the world, Pete's statements were freely misinterpreted and taken as an attack against Beckham. Nick Green, another local writer, had fun mocking the whole episode.

Thing is, I'd talked to
Pete the day Beckham's signing was public, when he was so effusive about Beckham coming, that I had quotes left over for another article that wasn't published until today. Somehow I doubt Pete dreams of aiding the national team comeback of a player he resents.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On the dentist's chair

Today was rather weak. I had to go to the dentist. Recently, I found out I had five cavities (hey kids, brush your teeth) and I finally and begrudgingly had them filled. On Monday I had the first set filled. Then, Tuesday I had the second set. On the first day, the dentist didn't use enough Novocain and I felt some of the drilling. The second day had no such problems.

Still, while I was sitting there with the dentist's hands inside my mouth, several random soccer thoughts crossed through my mind.

* I can't wait until preseason camp starts for Chivas USA and the Galaxy. I miss going out to training sessions and talking to players. There will be a different feel to both camps this year. With Chivas, the only consistency has been inconsistency. Three years ago I got to know Thomas Rongen, then Hans Westerhof. Last year I got to know Bob Bradley pretty well and now it's Preki's turn. Hopefully Preki stays longer than his predecessors. The Galaxy, meanwhile, will try to keep the seat warm for David Beckham. I'm expecting a lot more media out for Galaxy training sessions, even in February with no Becks nearby.

* Every time something good happens for the Galaxy, I can't help but think of how Doug Hamilton would react. I miss Doug.

* Lalas... he's done well but this year will be a pivotal year for the rest of his career. Now that he's got Becks, the pressure will be gigantic. Competing in three tournaments won't help either. The Galaxy can't go cup-less again.

* Just speculating but we could see something like this Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz.: Tim Howard; Jonathan Bornstein, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo; DaMarcus Beasley, Pablo Mastroeni, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey; Eddie Johnson, Kenny Cooper.

* And we could see something like this for Mexico: Oswaldo Sanchez; Carlos Salcido, Rafael Marquez, Ricardo Osorio; Andres Guardado, Gonzalo Pineda, Pavel Pardo, Gerardo Torrado; Adolfo Bautista, Kikin Fonseca, Jared Borgetti.

*Damn, what a game that would be.

* Trying to think the last time Mexico beat the U.S. in the U.S.... 1999 US Cup in San Diego. Mexico won 2-1. I wasn't there.

* I've only covered one US-Mexico game, the 2-0 US win in October 2000 when Landon Donovan scored his first-ever US goal. My lede that night: The future of American soccer has arrived.

* I wrote that game for Ah, the good old days.

* Is this dentist finished yet?!?

Bob and weave

Bob Bradley ducked a little bit when asked which players he was specifically requesting to come in from Europe.

He did give some clues, though, saying that he welcomed the chance to look at younger, inexperienced players.

I'm still wondering if Jonathan Spector counts as a young player, or as a more experienced one. I guess we'll see eventually.

Open shakeup

Ok, so the Open Cup format has changed. I guess all those who screech about how the MLS regular season doesn't mean much should be a little more placated now. I doubt it, though. I have to say, I like any change that favors the little teams a bit, because it's fun to see the Cinderellas come out to the big dance, so to speak. That's why I've always loved the Open Cup and have wanted it to gain prominance as a competition. But there's still part of me that is intrinsically bugged by the idea that better teams are knocking themselves out of the competition early.

For me, it's as if Wimbledon gave the top six seeded tennis players spots in the tournament, then made the next six seeds play each other in a qualifying tournament for two spots. Meanwhile, players from 20 to 12 got to qualify to enter by playing each other.

Basically, it's like Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova facing each other for a chance to even enter the tournament. I think it's kind of interesting, but not really conducive to the sporting ideal of having the best teams involved in the later stages. It may not last past this year, and I understand the motivation of trying to eliminate the fixture congestion, but it's a bit of an odd compromise.


Hopefully the Oguchi Onyewu saga is over. It looks like he's landed at Newcastle United on a loan deal that could make the transfer permanent in the summer.

Marseille was better than Liege but Newcastle is certainly better than Marseille. Gooch will get toughened up even more so than he has been already with the Magpies. The club has a fantastic history and a rich tradition and a demanding fan base. All that's certainly going to toughen Onyewu up.

More Brad

I finally got the Brad Friedel story written and it was published this morning. He was a real interesting person to talk to and was honest with a lot of different things. I still could not place his accent with his face. It didn't match but nonetheless we communicated just fine.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In the know

As I walked to the USMNT's training field today, I greeted the LA Galaxy's Ante Jazic, who was again loitering and watching the practice, while chatting with Pam Perkins, the U.S. squad's manager.

Jazic called after me, "What's the news? What's the latest?"

I think writing early that Beckham was on his way to MLS has cemented my rep for a bit. It'll be hard for me to top being right on that call for a while.

I turned back, "You're on the team - don't you have the inside info? Have they cleared out a space for his locker yet?"

"Is he coming early?" Jazic persisted.

Thinking it was amusing how we were both using the generic pronoun "he" yet knew exactly who we were talking about, I shook my head. "Not yet."

"What I want to know is, are we getting a private charter when he gets here?" Jazic asked. "That would be really nice."

Happy I could contribute some helpful info, I nodded. "Yeah, that one looks like it's going to happen, actually."

Pam Perkins added an interesting tidbit. "Yes, and I hear that Bruce is looking to do the same thing in New York. He's asked for a charter."

Two forwards, one coach

Sometimes, even when it's just a sideline interview after a practice, you get someone who says quite a lot. Sometimes someone is polite, but seems more interested in making it to lunch.

Sometimes it helps to speak German. After the Denmark game, assistant coach Peter Nowak gave what seemed to be an extensive interview to a pair of European journalists in German. They had their tape recorders out and were nodding along as he talked away. From what little I could make out (hey, don't laugh, my basic German got me around Hamburg all by my lonesome for the World Cup) he was talking about some stylistic differences between the soccer in Europe and in the U.S. Of course, when Nowak was done talking in German, he wasn't doing any interviews in English.

Where's Steve Cherundolo and his perfect German to translate when you need it?

RIP Real?

Now, I don't know how things work in Salt Lake City. I couldn't keep track of all the twists and turns of the stadium saga. I was waiting for a done deal for the good, or for the not so good. This latest statement of Checketts may be a ruse.

However, the smoke and fire may have finally burned soccer in Utah for good. I don't know enough about the situation to cast blame, but I do know I'll miss Real Salt Lake as part of MLS if that's what all this means.

I'll never forget the view from the Rice-Eccles press box (best in the country), or the fans going crazy for the U.S. team versus Costa Rica, or Landon Donovan claiming Salt Lake was among his favorite cities. Even with the crappy season the first year, the fans had a way of marking the bitter irony that was unique, such as the black crepe paper streamers to mark their club's ignoble record.

Most of all, I'll miss the Salt Lake City journalists, who were the only ones I ever saw travel regularly with their team to matches, and, who, in RSL's short existence, raised the level of soccer reporting with both the depth and breadth of their coverage. The trio of Lauren Gustus, Michael Lewis, and James Edward were also really nice people - smart, funny, good to have around the game.

It's sad if it's true it's over.

Lalas abroad

I think Alexi Lalas is getting a lot more press abroad than he ever did back when he played in Italy. Though I doubt he's getting the salary MLS commisioner Don Garber is, Lalas may very well be considered the face of the league by those overseas at this point.

The Gooch is still loose

I love how the chase is on for Oguchi Onyewu. At this point, top teams in Spain (Real Madrid), Italy (AC Milan, or was it Inter?), France (Marseille) and England (Man U, Chelsea, Fulham, Middlesborough and now Newcastle) have all reportedly sought his services.

I've only met Onyewu a few times, because he's been abroad for so long, but he leaves an impression. He was downright testy in the Hamburg press conference following the loss to the Czech Republic in Germany. Not in a surly, mean way, but as if his dignity was affronted that so many were writing the U.S. team off so early. He seemed really determined to turn it around for the team.

Obviously, he's a physical force on the field, but at times, he's had to be extremely careful with calls. Players can bump into him and fall back as if they've been wounded, and the referees fall for it. They look at his size and strength and probably assume that Onyewu did some damage.

Anyway, I'll be almost disappointed when Onyewu does settle down someplace. The "Runaway Bride" aspect of all these major suitors unable to finalize a deal is almost funny.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dreaming of MLS

Maybe MLS is Sleeping Beauty, after all. Chivas USA is running a show for those who aspire to wear the famous stripes of the club.

Home at last

I've never understood why some people get in a snit about movements placing the youngest MLS players near their homes. Yes, I understand that once they sign contracts, they're professionals, but they're still kids in some cases. When the LA Galaxy traded a 16-year-old DaMarcus Beasley back to Chicago nearly instantly, it just made sense to me. David Arvizu is finally with the team he wanted to play for all along and he's back with his family. Of course, it doesn't always work out for players to stay with their hometown club, but at least Arvizu's getting a chance there.

Preki isn't patient

Actually, he's a little hyperactive. As an English journalist interviewed Antonio Cue today, Preki was waiting. The journalist had asked to speak to him next, but then kept questioning Cue repeatedly about David Beckham. Cue was a good sport, considering he was getting a little burnt by the sun while standing out there so long. Preki, meanwhile was shifting back and forth, retreating to the shade, and finally miming a golf swing to kill time. It's hard for the guy to stand still.

Becks and his new life in MLS

So there's a Disney campaign starring the Galaxy's newest player, David Beckham, who actually is a pretty decent ringer for Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty. What I'm not sure about is if this means that MLS is Sleeping Beauty, or if that represents all the U.S fans that Beckham is supposed to wake up to about soccer.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Run silent, run deep

I stopped by the USMNT/UCLA scrimmage today. Interestingly enough, assistant U.S. coach Peter Nowak is still declining any media interviews. I'd hoped he would loosen up after the win against Denmark. Nothing doing. He's still running laps with the team, though. Still barefoot.

As far as the scrimmage goes, the U.S. beat UCLA. However, if you count Jimmy Conrad as a Bruin still, UCLA actually won.

Friday, January 26, 2007

No US vs Chivas USA?

For the last two years, the US has scrimmaged against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. In 2005, the score was 7-0 in favor of the US. Last year, Chivas USA fared better but still lost 2-1 to the US.

This year, though, could be the end of that streak. The US doesn't have Chivas in mind as an opponent to test itself against because Chivas hasn't yet started training camp. The game in 05 was in March while the game last year was the same day as Mexico-Korea (Feb. 15 or thereabouts).

I was kicked out and kept away from both games but I wasn't singled out. All us media hacks were kept out. Lame.

Mexican headed to Kansas City

Kansas City's most popular player helped lure a big-time Mexican star to the U.S. this week. Friday, K.C. signed Ramiro Pruneda out of Monterrey and in the process kept him from going to Europe.

So, is Pruneda going to be a boost to Eddie Johnson and Co.? Well, not exactly.

Pruneda made his name playing futbol americano. The K.C. he signed with is the Chiefs, whose popular tight end, Tony Gonzalez, helped lure Pruneda to the NFL. In fact, Kansas City thought so highly of Pruneda that they did not make him go to NFL Europe and instead inked him to a two-year deal.

Pruneda is an oddity in Mexico. At 6-foot-6 and 317 pounds, Pruneda may as well have been a corn-fed good ol' boy from Nebraska. Instead, he is from Nuevo Leon and made his name leading Monterrey Tech to several Mexican championships (yes, they do play that kind of futbol in Mexico).

Becks could fit in

I have to say, most MLS players are out in the community a lot, visiting hospitals and hosting underprivileged children at events. The Los Angeles Galaxy players, for example, have done this for years. I wondered if Beckham would join in those activities. Apparently, he's starting early.

Marseille wins out

It seems Olympique Marseille has won out in the Oguchi Onyewu sweepstakes. Marseille landed Gooch on Friday, according to reports.

Now, it's not Chelsea like many had speculated but Marseille and France is certainly a notch or three higher than Standard and Belgium. Playing for one of France's top clubs will only benefit Onyewu, perhaps even more than had he landed at Stamford Bridge.

Onyewu could step right in to Marseille's defense whereas a move to Chelsea could have prevented him from seeing a lot of playing time.

Onyewu is also under new management at the highest level. Seems Canadian businessman Jack Kachkar has bought Marseille for a cool 115 million Euros.

Toronto is #1

Tom Payne of the Galaxy just stopped by for a minute (the lounge is a happening place) and shared some info.

The Galaxy have hundreds of players coming to their open tryouts. They've had to turn away a number of applications and he said he believes the list is closing entirely soon, just because they have a limit of players that they can handle. The Galaxy are renting all the Home Depot Center's outlying fields for the event and bringing in a number of local coaches with Galaxy ties, such as Paul Caliguri, Danny Pena and Ralph Perez, to supplement the actual Galaxy coaching staff in evaluating players.

But perhaps the biggest news he had is that despite the Beckham signing, the Galaxy are only second in new season ticket packages sold. Toronto is first, with well over 10,000. As Payne pointed out, the Galaxy tickets are at a different price point, but that's still remarkable.

I don't know what the totals are once renewals are included. Payne had to run off to lunch.


I'm waiting in the main lounge of the Home Depot Center for an interview with Alexi Lalas. Two executives of a large local company are seated nearby, signing the deal on a season corporate package for a Chivas USA club suite. While they wait for the sales rep to bring them a welcome gift (Chivas caps signed by the players) the two execs talk about why they're buying the suite.

"Our employees are just much more interested in the game than in any other. I might never come to the suite, but it's a great way to reward employees or welcome new customers. They'll definitely enjoy coming here."

The other made an interesting point. "This is just a more friendly atmosphere. We used to have a suite at Staples, and there they act like they don't care at all. If you don't buy season tickets, someone else will. They don't really make you feel welcome."

The more things change . . .

There's still a long way for soccer to go among certain segments of U.S. society. For example, as the U.S. team resumes training before the upcoming match against their traditional rivals, I'm the only English language media person at the practice today.

Televisa, from Mexico, is here. Telemundo, too, both with full camera crews. La Opinion, the local LA Spanish language paper, has sent a reporter out.

Of course, that means Pablo Mastroeni and Landon Donovan are in demand. The crews also want to put Bob Bradley's recent Spanish skills to the test.

Wannabe Soothsayer

In 2005, during the youth World Cup in Peru, I was impressed by Josmer Altidore in the little bit of time he was on the field. Not only by his game, but also because he was strong and fast, and the youngest player to make the roster, but mainly because in a heated match versus Italy, he was on a breakaway and got absolutely mugged, grabbed hard by the Italian defender who Jozy was easily outracing to the ball. They both went down in a heap, Jozy plaintively still watching the ball even as he fell. Since the ref was on the other side of the field, slow to catch up with the play, the Italian defender took the opportunity to kick Jozy, who bounded to his feet in angry indignation.

Despite his youth, he stopped himself, though. You could practically see his entire thought process on his face, "We're ahead, I've been put in to help my team. Is this idiot worth risking my chance at more playing time?"

Jozy backed off, the U.S. won, the Italians got bounced out in the first round.

All that said, Jozy didn't play that well during U20 qualifying. I trust that he still has it in him, though. I see the games, I make my guesses. It's not an exact science.

Bloody, but unbowed

Hope Solo, the U.S. women's goalkeeper, wears a small silver medallion around her neck with a quote from William Earnest Henley "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul".

Those are the last two lines from his poem, "Invictus".

Anyway, in today's Four Nation's opener, it was defender Kate Markgraf paying the price of pain as the U.S. women battled to a scoreless draw with Germany.

Markgraf is one of the few holdovers on the team from the glory days of 1999 and the Rose Bowl.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Nerd with tape recorder

Yeah, I'm the one. So everyone else is listening to Sunil Gulati talk, and I'm turning on my tape recorder. I don't trust my memory, and I can't take notes fast enough. Actually, even tape isn't perfect, because soft voices are hard to hear. But for the most part, this is the transcription of Sunil's stadium statements.

"We could have hosted World Cup in 1998 and used stadiums that did not exist in 1994. We could’ve hosted the World Cup in 2002 and used stadiums that did not exist in 1998. We could have hosted the World Cup in 2006 and used stadiums that did not exist in 2002. These are all stadiums of 70,000 seats or more, because new NFL stadiums keep going up. It’s an extraordinary set-up that we've got. FedEx Field. It’s the biggest stadium in the world right now, 90,000 seats, real seats. There's Gillette Stadium, and so many others. There weren't that many stadiums in Germany that had 70,000 seats. And we would fill them."

And voicing support for South Africa:

"When I was in Mexico in 1986, it was a different World Cup, but it was a fabulous World Cup. Part of the reason was because there was this guy wearing a blue and white shirt that was pretty fabulous, but it was also a sensational World Cup. It was different than the World Cup in Germany. I think South Africa will host a great World Cup. It will be different."

It's just criminal

Three years and counting. Okay, it's more like 40 months and counting. Whatever countdown you have - years, months, weeks, days, whatever - South Africa 2010 is just __ ____ away. While everyone from FIFA president Sepp Blatter to South African politicians say the World Cup will go off without a hitch, I myself am worried.

This guy, however, is not. Andre Pruis, the deputy national commissioner of the South African Police Service, seems to think that there will be low crime levels around the games. That might be good but nobody is going to sleep at the stadiums. What I want to see is for police to tell us that there will be lower crime levels everywhere during the World Cup.

What's scary is this part from the story:

"In a 12-month period between 2005-2006 there were 18,528 murders, 54,926 rapes, and 226,942 assaults with grievous bodily harm intended, according to the Department of Safety and Security"

Holy crap. And they're going to take the World Cup here? 18,528 murders?!? In one year?!?

As much as I'd hate to see South Africans soccer fans lose out on the World Cup, for the sake of the rest of the world this event needs to happen elsewhere. I can think of 18,528 reasons for it.

Now, should the World Cup be moved, it is logical for the U.S. to host the event. Before the Denmark-US game Sunil Gulati sat with a group of reporters and talked about the United States and of its great stadiums. He brought up some interesting points. First, he said that the US still holds the attendance record for a World Cup. Since then, there have been more games added (24 teams in 94, 32 afterward) but more fans have passed through the turnstiles in USA 94 than in France 98, Japan/Korea 2002 and Germany 2006. Gulati also said that the number of stadiums has increased dramatically since 94.

He said something like - and I'm paraphrasing - there were stadiums in 98 that didn't exist in 94 that could have hosted the World Cup. There were enough stadiums to host the World Cup in, in 02 that weren't around in 98. There were enough stadiums to host the World Cup in, in 2006 that weren't around in 2002 and there will probably be enough stadiums in 2010 to host the World Cup in that weren't around in 2006.

Now, before I go on, Gulati made it clear that nobody in FIFA had contacted him about the possibility about hosting the World Cup, and in fact wouldn't even go so far as to say the U.S. would be the best option to host the World Cup should something happen in South Africa.

Anyway, let's take a moment to daydream, shall we? World Cup 2002 had 16 host cities I believe but that's because it was in two different countries. I know Japan had Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Osaka, Kobe and Oita (all of which I saw games at) as well as Sapporo and Yokohama (didn't make it out to those ones). Germany had 12 host cities.

The U.S. should have 12 as well. It could have 16 or 20 but do you really want to make fans and media travel that much?

Let's stick to 12 and break it down by region.

West: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. (would need some major renovations but is best option in the LA area); U of Phx Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.; Qwest Field, Seattle; Invesco Field, Denver.

Midwest: Soldier Field, Chicago (a no-brainer); Reliant Stadium, Houston; Browns Stadium, Cleveland; Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis.

East: Lincoln Field, Philly; Gillette Stadium, Foxboro; FedEx Field, D.C.; Dolphin Stadium, Miami.

Yes, I left New York off. If the World Cup can do without Tokyo, it can do without New York. All these cities and venues have proven they can play host to large-scale events, with Glendale pulling off the Fiesta Bowl and the BCS title game in a span of a week without major headaches, and I'll give a first-hand account of that stadium in a few weeks' time.

It would be nice to keep groups to one part of the country, like have Group A play in the West cities, Group B in the East cities, and so on and so forth. That would cut down on travel time for teams and fans and the media.

Gulati can deny it all he wants; deep down, he knows what the rest of us know. The U.S. is the only country who would be able to host the World Cup with as little as a month of prep time. Blatter can call Gulati in May 1, 2010 and give him 18,528 reasons that he decided to move the World Cup and if the U.S. could host it. Gulati would make a few phone calls and then that would spur a few more phone calls and before you knew it the U.S. would be playing Poland in the opener at Qwest Field on June 12, 2010.

Like I said, daydreaming.


Normally, the Gold Cup is the ugly stepsister of the regional championships, but this year, it's taken on a new allure. The U.S. and Mexico are in hot pursuit.

A new hope

Trying to get to the Galaxy far, far away

The saga continues. . .

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Who said what?

Emptying my notebook of quotes, I had a few leftover that I thought I'd share here. Just for a little fun, though, I thought I'd leave people to guess which statement was made by which person.

1) On playing Denmark - "It's an important game because we didn't have a great summer and it's the first game we've played since."
2) On Bob Bradley - "Hopefully I can catch his eye and get called into the full national team in the future."

3) On game tactics -"Sometimes you just know things will kind of go your way.
You gotta make that run, and get in the right position. Both of us thought outside the box to get into the box."
4) On the Denmark result - It’s always good to win in front of the home fans against anybody. It’s exciting for everybody. We know we have bigger and better things to do now.

5) On the Superliga - "I think it might get some fans who are maybe sitting on the couch to come out and see what happens."

6) On David Beckham - "There’s no one who you could bring here who will bring more attention to the game."

7) On David Beckham - "It’s good for the football here. I think it’s a boost. He’s a top player and has been a key player for Man United and the English."

8) On being with the USMNT - "I’ve just been ready and waiting for this call for a long time."

9) On being with the USMNT - "I’m not really a regular right now. I’m still trying to break into a regular spot."

10) On what Beckham will expect from MLS - "I don’t know what his perception of the American player is, so I don't know if I can answer that. I think it's a very high standard. I feel like I’m progressing playing here."

A. Dan Flynn B. Justin Mapp C. Kenny Cooper D. Jonathan Bornstein E. Sunil Gulati F. Kyle Beckerman G. Ricardo Clark H. Morten Olsen I. David Arvizu J. Bob Bradley

Match 'em up! I'll be back later to reveal the truth. Some of these quotes are exclusive to interviews I did, but some have been floating around out there, I think. Some have little inherent hints about who might say something like that.

OK, here it is - the key to who said what -
1) E

Musical choices

I know it's still two weeks away, exactly two weeks from today actually, but I'm trying to plan my road trip to Glendale, Arizona. Of course the most important part of any roadie is the music.

I know my travel companion will probably have had enough of my musical choices before we hit Indio so I'm going to make my choices count.

I might start off with a little Guns N Roses. I got the Greatest Hits CD for Christmas and it's really good. If I only have a few song choices, I'll probably start with track 2, move to 3, then go to 13 and 14.

Then, I think I may try a little Rage Against the Machine, in honor of their recent announcement. I may slip a song or two in while we pass by Coachella since I won't be able to make it out there in person.

A couple of bands I've fallen for lately I unfortunately don't have their CDs. I might still be able to catch some Black Stone Cherry and Wolfmother on my station of choice, Sirius Octane 20.

I know the drive is going to seem a lot longer than the 4 1/2 hours it will take from the Inland Empire. I'll be thinking about watching the best rivalry in North America and trying to picture the game and setting and all that stuff. I've actually only covered one US-Mexico game in person, the October 2000 meeting at the Coliseum. I wasn't able to make it to Mexico City in 1999, 2001 or 2005 or Columbus in either 2001 or 2005. Couldn't foot the bill. This time, though, it will be as energetic and electric as any other game. Bob Bradley and Hugo Sanchez will bring a different feel to the teams and a different style of play than their respective predecessors.

It'll be a good game and hopefully a good trip and if my travel buddy doesn't feel up for some rock n roll, it's all good. There's always this, one of my guilty pleasures...

Taking the piss

Well, the English are having a go at their old idol, David Beckham. It is a sendoff to match the one he gave himself in the 1998 World Cup, I guess. Or maybe they kid because they still love.

Lost in translation

Christopher Sitz, Ofori Sarkodi, Daniel Sztela?

I guess the transfer to Spanish did a number on the names of a few of the U.S. U20 players. Tony Beltran's, though, got the extra spice of an accent mark.

Anthony Beltrán

Hugo anxious

I have to say, I like the idea that Mexico's top guy is worried about how U.S soccer has progressed. That makes the Beckham signing worthwhile all on its own, I think.

Bornstein NOT captied

At the post-Denmark mixed zone, I was giving Jonny Bornstein a bit of a hard time, saying, "Well, I guess this is it for playing with Mexico's team." A USSF employee who was escorting Bornstein from the press conference interjected.

"No - he's not cap-tied until he plays in an official competition or qualifying."

Bornstein himself nodded in agreement. "Friendlies don't captie you."

He quickly added that he wanted to play for the U.S., though.

I have no idea whether this pertains to Freddy Adu, at all, as he only played a few minutes in a friendly against Canada, but apparently Bornstein could play against and even score against Mexico on Feb. 7th, but still be eligible to play for them.

Or Israel.

Anyway, I guess Gold Cup is the soonest he could be captied to the US.

Blog policy change

We have caved. All those anonymous comments that were smart and insightful have convinced Luis and I that its worth just approving even the ones who bash. Of course, racist comments, spam, and the like will still be dumped off.

Could Reyna return to the USMNT?

I was at the press conference in Germany where Claudio Reyna announced his retirement from international soccer. One statement he made intrigued me a little, though.

"We don’t have a major European championship or something where I felt in two years I could still be playing. But four years was a little too much. So it’s best just to stop now."

It was a large conference, and there were a bunch of journos asking questions, but even then, I nearly yelled out, "What about Gold Cup?" The obvious objection there would be that the strain of travel from Europe would be too much for Claudio.

Now that he's with the Red Bulls, though, that's not an issue. His ties to Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley go way back, so some persuasion there could be effective.

Though it doesn't get the respect of the European Championships, the Gold Cup is the regional championship for the U.S., the closest equivalent we have. It may be farfetched, but I think there's a chance Reyna might participate. I mean, if he implied he could still play internationally for two years, the Gold Cup is this year.

For any of those who think that the Gold Cup is a good time to experiment with young players, leaving Reyna out even if he wants to play, I disagree completely. This Gold Cup is the ticket to the Confed Cup, which would provide invaluable experience in the venues of the World Cup ahead of time. The U.S. should experiment at Copa America - the Gold Cup, we need to win. Reyna can still help the team do that. Especially against CONCACAF competition, I think it would be a nice hurrah for his USMNT career.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Commanding Respect

From time to time, you'll see some friends of ours share their thoughts here on Sideline Views. Here is a contribution from a friend of Sideline Views, Matt Zimmerman.

After Chivas' playoff loss to Houston, then-coach Bob Bradley was giving someone who I assume was a supervisor of officials an earful. Chivas USA felt like some of the calls had been bogus, and the coach was letting this gentleman know about it. Right next to him, offering support and interjecting with strong words was Preki, Bradley's right-hand man throughout the season.

During practices, Preki played with the team often, while Bradley would stand in the middle of scrimmages and instruct. Preki has the respect, especially as someone who not so long ago was making defenses pay in MLS.

It will be interesting to see how he does as a head coach, considering he only has a single season as an assistant under his belt. But at the very least, the players will not ignore MLS' only two-time MVP.

Not so familiar

So Andrea talked about her not-so-long lost cousin Ricardo Canales. That inspired me to post about my not-so-long lost family members.

Before I start, however, I must say that these people stick out in my mind because they are Buenos and Bueno ain't too common a last name. If my last name were Hernandez, I wouldn't care. Actually, if my last name were Hernandez, I'd probably go by El Matador.

Anyway, there is a long-suffering coach in Mexico named Sergio Bueno. He's been with Atlante and Morelia and Atlas among others. He's been with six clubs and I knew right there that he couldn't be related to me because I haven't moved around that much. Okay, I write for like five different publications but all at once. I don't get fired once a year like good old Sergio.

Then, there's Carlos Bueno who plays with Sporting Lisbon. Aside from his ghastly looks, I knew he couldn't be my cousin because he scores a lot... and I'm married.

So then, D.C. was close to signing Ruy Bueno Neto of Brazil. I thought that maybe he could be my cousin but when negotiations fell apart I knew he couldn't be my relative because he apparently had a high asking price and I'm pretty cheap.

So finally I came across this character named Danny Bueno. I know this guy is related to me because he shows a good knowledge of the English language, a strong understanding of soccer and we also shared a room for about two decades.

Deja Vu all over again

Justin Mapp isn't the only player I've compared to Clint Mathis before. The other one was Clint Dempsey, who has since, of course, gone on to debut with Fulham this week. Thing is, while Dempsey is undoubtedly creative, he's also more driven, in my opinion, than either Mapp or Mathis. He's super-competitive and incredibly fit, while Mapp and Mathis, well, at times have been less so.

Anyway - here's the article I wrote then (2005) - it's no longer on the web. "Out of print", one might say.

A Tale of Two Clints

It wasn't so long ago that soccer fans could mention Clint, and most everybody would know that Clint Mathis - he of the Mohawk, the southern drawl and the rebel persona, was the topic of discussion. Then versatile Clint Dempsey began to make his mark in the world of U.S. soccer - and now, if a young player mentions that Clint is his idol, further clarification may be needed.

Both players are back in MLS after stints abroad. MLS Rookie of the Year Dempsey's was shorter, as he had a trial with Feyenoord, where he was able to impress, but not secure a contract.

Mathis, on the other hand, had a bright beginning with Hannover 96 in Germany turn sour after a coaching change thwarted his efforts at starting time.

Now he finds himself one of the foundation players of MLS expansion Real Salt Lake.

"Yeah, it's great. I never thought I'd be back here after only being gone a year. But, I made a promise a while back to play for John [Ellinger] and try to do what I could to get back if he ever got a job. Fortunately, he was able to get the job in Salt Lake."

At the national team camp, during scrimmages or on the sidelines, the call of "Clint!" will sometimes receive a double-take from both Mathis, who now keeps his sandy blonde hair closely cropped, and Dempsey, whose dark locks recall the free-flowing style of Argentine players.

However, only one Clint saw game action during the last USMNT team game, and it wasn't the one with a World Cup goal to his credit.

Instead, it was Dempsey feeling slightly jittery when entering the field of play at Queen's Park Oval for a match against Trinidad and Tobago.

"I was playing in front of the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of. You're trying to catch the tempo of the game, so you don't know what to expect when you're going in."

"As soon as you get your first touch that (jitters) will go away, so that's the most important thing, just trying to get that first touch out of the way."

Dempsey was genuinely surprised to be named to the gameday squad. He considers carefully before answering the question of what Bruce Arena might have seen in him.

"I just think I have a little bit of versatility, so I'm able to play different positions, which allows me to make it on a roster because I'm not just stuck in one spot."

Mathis has shown versatility himself, playing as both a forward and midfielder for the USMNT and has often been the sparkplug for a squad that was known more for its workmanlike style than its flair and passion.

However, a spark can soon become a wildfire - and Mathis' temper had a reputation in his older MLS days.

Perhaps older and wiser now, he seems to be saying all the right things.

"For me, I'm just coming out here and I'll give a hundred percent," Mathis says. "If that's good enough to be able to help the team through qualifying and get us to the next World Cup, that's fine."

Mathis and Dempsey both are open to considering playing abroad as a future option, though it would seem that the window of opportunity might be closing for Mathis.

Never one for regrets or looking back to the past, Mathis doesn't dwell on what might have been in Europe, instead seizing on the chance he now has.

"I didn't know if I was going to get this opportunity ever again," Mathis states.

"A lot of people think that I've come back because of the sourness that happened." he shakes his head emphatically. "No. I made that decision. I could've gone to another Bundesliga club, or a club in Spain, no problem. But I'd already made my decision to play for John and I stuck with it."

What Mathis values most in a coach are the qualities he observes Ellinger has.

"He's a straightforward guy, he knows the game really well, and he relates to the players really well. It's a gift that was given to him, just like a talent that a player has. I've never heard a bad thing about John from any player, any staff member, anything."

Though his own European experience was limited to a trial, Dempsey hopes that it will lead to more.

"[I'm looking for] the best situation possible, depending on the environment and the team and how bad they want me and where I'm going to get playing time."

He did pick up some valuable lessons from his time at the Dutch powerhouse.

Dempsey comments, "Practice is like game pace. It was very intense. Training with Fyenrood, you're surrounded by good players. You're put in an environment where you can only get better and that's what you want to be in."

Mathis takes away his own memories of his Bundesliga days.

"You look at the practices - day in, day out, it's about getting on the field and giving it a hundred percent each and every day. Hopefully, I can bring that experience and show how important it is to work hard, each and every day, to know how much pressure there can be on each and every game- how much three points is when it comes down to the end of the season and to relay that to the guys who haven't gotten to experience that."

He may also bring that mentoring role to younger national team members, such as Dempsey.

If Mathis is ready to teach, the young defender/midfielder/forward looks to improve by learning from his new experiences,such as his national team training. He has already prioritized the most important elements of the lessons there.

"Take care of your body. Anytime you can rest, rest as much as you can. Eat right, so you can come out every day and play as best as you possibly play. Another thing I've learned is just speed of play. It's a lot quicker, so you have to be mentally focused and ready for training."

While Dempsey's concern for his health makes him seem both mature and prudent, it contrasts against the old reputation of the more freewheeling Mathis.

Yet in spite of training and dietary habits that were described by former coaches as desultory, it was during this time that Mathis was able to lay claim to a history of impressive achievements for the USMNT.

He concedes, however, that now the national team is very competitive and appears philosophical about whether he makes the starting roster.

"It's fine with me. I've experienced the World Cup and the qualification. I'm just here to help the team in any way I can. If I come out here and give a hundred percent and Bruce decides that's going to help the team, so be it. If not, that's fine, too."

"I'm at that point in my career where I'm not going to worry about the little things," Mathis says, smiling.

Long lost cousin?

Actually, I'm not from Honduras, but the name still caught my eye.

Ricardo Canales of Honduras may play against Denmark today in their friendly. Canales is a goalkeeper there with Motagua, the local champion. He’s quoted in the Spanish press saying, “You’ve got to work your hardest to earn the starting spot.”

Bit of advice, Ricardo, should you start: watch for Simon Busk Poulsen. Yell at your defenders to stay on him, because he’s good.

I asked striker Jesper Bech what Denmark hoped to learn from the teams it was playing on their tour, if anything.

“You could say that it’s a big difference, from playing with the European teams. We don’t know that much about them. Maybe we can learn from that and use some of the things they do to put in our plays.”

Almost home

Looks like Captain America is close to coming home after all. Seems his contract has been ripped up by Manchester City.

I think it's a great move for Claudio Reyna and the Red Bulls and MLS if Reyna can stay healthy. It seems that he's been injured often in his career and playing on the Giants Stadium turf doesn't seem to be an ideal situation. Still, I think it's worth the risk.

LD Post game

To follow up on the Landon stuff below, here's a link to my Press-Enterprise article on Landon Donovan's thoughts about the Danes.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Heath Pearce on the move?

Sometimes, there's just a little bit of info left from an interview that isn't quite enough to write up as its own article, but is interesting enough on its own that its worth reporting.

Reporters often include stuff like that at the end of an article, in a Notes section. Anyway, here's a Heath Pearce tidbit.

"In terms of my club situation, I have six months left on my contract there (FC Nordsjaelland). There's some interest from other European clubs and different leagues. Right now, with the getting close to the end of January (transfer window), something could happen. I could make a move. But if not, then I'll finish this out. I'll keep my focus on my current club and finish it out and leave on a free (transfer) in the summer and see what else is out there for me. "

Landon's blushing

Luis doesn't give compliments lightly.
My theory is that Landon's gotten better at interviews because he gives so many of them. It's constant, and he's nearly always willing to do it. I don't think any U.S. soccer player has given more commentary to the press, not even Freddy Adu. Of course, I can't quantify that, but I do know that Freddy doesn't speak Spanish and a lot of the media questions Landon handles are from the Spanish-speaking press.

Brad will have to wait

I had intended to write up a Brad Friedel article for the Press-Enterprise for tomorrow but with the Denmark game still fresh on my mind, I decided to shake my notebook and write about the stuff that fell out... and most of it was Landon Donovan stuff. Interesting.

It's not like Landon is the local soccer hero or anything. Nah.

Really it's not anything earth shattering but Landon has some good stuff to say as always. He's really gotten better with talking to the media over the years. First time I talked to him, he was 16 and gave answers like, well, a 16-year-old. He's very polished these days. Not sure if it's because he was groomed by someone or if he groomed himself but he's a great interview.

Sorry Brad. Get to ya next week.

Bob and Frank

Now that Frank Rijkaard has given his views on Beckham's situation with Real Madrid, I wonder if he has any thoughts on Bob Bradley as interim coach of the U.S. team?

I can imagine it now - "In theory I wouldn't hire an interim."

Rocking the soccer cradle

I'm sharing an email I got today - it wasn't sent anonymously, but since they probably didn't expect to be featured in my blog, I'm not revealing who sent it. I'm just wondering if anyone else can relate.

Oh, yeah, the Justin Mapp article that caused the email to be written.

The Email:
It starts at the the youth level where club coaches and parents all want to WIN, WIN, WIN!
Instead of placing trust in the individual players to grow into their own game at their own pace. This is the single most important aspect of soccer in this country that must change if we are to improve our standing compared to the rest of the world. Many felt a Klinsmann or another foreign coach would be the answer to this problem as they would have brought their ideas of youth development to this country and thus begin to change existing ideas (in youth club soccer) of how to nurture young, dynamic soccer players. There are more than you think out there right now, but many get ignored due to their lack of consistent defending or hustle plays? As any coach worth anything will tell you, it is a lot easier to teach a kid to defend than it is to create on his own. Does Cristiano Ronaldo defend all the time and very well? No! But I doubt you wouldn't find one US coach that would leave him out of his team right now. But I doubt he would have made it coming up as a youth player in the US in the 90's.

Speed racer

Mirror, mirror, on the US U20 locker room wall, who's the fastest of them all? Andre Akpan? Johann Smith?

I asked Smith if he was the one.

"Ha, ha - maybe. I don't know," answered the Bolton striker.

Freddy Adu was more sure.

"We know that Johann is the fastest guy on the team."

Andre, at the least, was the undisputed US goalscorer of the tournament, with three, all in the first match versus Haiti.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dream a little dream

In other Galaxy news, someone else still hasn't given up on his Galaxy dream.

Another viewpoint

Kenny Cooper on his Manchester United days:

"When I was there, there were four of us who were from America. I think it was four. I think Guiseppe (Rossi) was born in New Jersey. I'm not sure if he was from Italy or New Jersey

Well, Cooper is understandably unsure. Rossi was born in New Jersey, lived there until a teenager, but has elected to play for Italy, his father's birthplace. Here's an article I wrote back when the U.S. tried inviting him to a camp.

One viewpoint

Jonathan Bornstein, who is eligible to play for Mexico, on playing for the U.S.

"My dreams have always been with the United States. I grew up here. I've only been in Mexico once. Obviously, it's huge and a lot of pride for me to represent the United States. I'm looking forward to the game against Mexico and being on the red white and blue side and not on the green side."

Teaching the newcomers

When asked how the young players could adjust to playing at the international level, Landon Donovan said the only way guys like Jonathan Bornstein and Kenny Cooper would learn how is to learn it first hand.

"It is an adjustment. It is different. This isn’t DC United vs. Kansas City. This game is not going to look anything like the Mexico game. It’s going to be a few notches up and the only way you get that is with experience. I can’t tell them what the game is going to be like. You have to be in it and play in it to experience it."

Worth the yellow

Referee Mauricio Navarro chases Kenny Cooper down to deliver the yellow card for excessive celebration while Cooper puts his shirt back on.

"I wasn’t thinking about that at the time; I probably should have," said Cooper of getting booked. "Hopefully, there will be more goals and hopefully, I’ll remember next time – if I score again."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

No Gooch?

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said before Saturday's game that Bob Bradley would probably call in between 5-8 European based players for the Mexico game but said Bradley would not likely call up players who had a league match on the Sunday. For travel purposes, it wouldn't make much sense to do so, Gulati said.

The only EPL game scheduled for Feb. 4 is a Manchester United-Tottenham tilt. However, Standard Liege plays on the 4th. By Gulati's line of reasoning, Oguchi Onyewu then won't be called up.

Incidentally, should Mexico choose to leave players whose clubs play on the 4th out, both Barcelona (Rafael Marquez) and Stuttgart (Pavel Pardo, Ricardo Osorio) play on Sunday.

Soccer heroes

Fighting the good soccer fight.

Sweet relief

While we're waiting in the press conference room for Bob Bradley, US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati comes in, all smiles, and takes a seat in the gallery. He's clearly pleased at the win over Denmark. Still, I couldn't help but wonder if he was sweating out the one goal deficit in the first half, when the U.S. team simply wasn't playing that well.

I decide to ask him. "Sunil, were you getting a little nervous there when the team went down a goal?"

He says nothing, and I think maybe he hasn't heard me. Then he looks over and nods, just once, but emphatically.

3-1 win - game notes.

Denmark went tall to start the game, leaving speedy but small striker Jesper Bech on the bench and instead starting Dennis Sorensen

4th minute, shot in the box by Denmark blocked by Boswell.

5th minute FK outside the box for Donovan.

Jaqua skied for header, knocking into Jesper Christiansen, who got the worst of it, but came back up.

Johnson bad pass, then cleared out ball for header.


Donovan stole ball, sent pass to EJ, who set it back for Rolfe, who, though far out, took a crack at it. The low ,hard shot was palmed just wide by Christiansen for a corner. Donovan took the corner, Chris Albright headed it on goal – into Christiansen’s waiting have CK.

Chris Albright booked for a yellow on Simon Busk Poulsen.

Later, Poulsen makes U.S. pay with perfect pass in the area to Sorensen.

Rolfe starts play where U.S. scraps for it, Clark comes up with it into box, gets pulled from behind – PK!

Donovan takes, makes.


Justin Mapp only change for U.S.

Wow, wow, wow, what a run by Mapp to create a goal for Bornstein. Most of the players are congratulating Mapp after that, as well they should. Nice work.

Kenny Cooper, Heath Pearce, Brian Namoff in.

Cooper keeps trying to do stuff with the ball at his feet. A guy his size needs to work closer to goal.

Cooper then makes me look stupid, scoring on a breakaway off a sweet long ball by Pearce.

Shirt off, that’s a yellow.

Beckerman in. Califf in.

Danish bragging rights belong to the U.S. boys – Pearce and Califf.


Who said anything about nil-nil?

Wow, was I ever wrong about that one... Not the first time I've been wrong, I suppose.

I'll post more later but it was a really good game for the US, Bob Bradley and Jonathan Bornstein. Very nice way to start the year as well.

At the half

Tied 1-1

USA vs Denmark

37 - Sorensen

44 - Donovan (PK)

Real-time, blog style

So here I am in the press box watching the US-Denmark game. I realize it's only about 15 minutes in but I'm kinda worried we won't see a goal today. There are some games that have a 0-0 feel to it and this is close to that. Just call me the king of the overreactions I guess. Still, the InterLiga was a dreadful six-game borefest so maybe there is something about this building in 2007... okay, won't make that giant leap.

Anyway, I decided to put up a Bueno's Eye View shot of the USMNT and the Danes for your viewing pleasure.

Last time out

I got up at exactly 4:30 this morning, Saturday morning. Today, after all, is Bob Bradley's debut as U.S. coach, the first U.S. game since last June and my first chance since last January to watch the US in person.

But I didn't exactly get up in eager anticipation. My 15-month-old woke up screaming, like she usually does every morning between 4 and 6, and crawled into bed alongside me. She was able to go back to sleep until 5:55 but not I.

As I lay there, trying to squeeze out every last minute of sleep from her tiny body, I thought about the game and imagined the scene and kept thinking of last year. But it will be a huge difference from a year ago.

To refresh your memory, the U.S. beat Norway 5-0 at Home Depot Center on Jan. 29, 2006. Bruce Arena was the coach. Taylor Twellman was the hat-trick hero. Todd Dunivant was the big revelation. Twellman, Eddie Pope and Chris Klein accounted for the offense.

So what came from that game? Fast forward a few months and neither Twellman nor Dunivant nor Klein were anywhere near Germany. Arena and Pope were present for the United States' forgettable performances and that 5-0 win seemed as meaningless as ever.

Today, of course, will be a different game. Last year, Arena was trying to find that one player who could have made a difference. I still contend that that person would have been Dunivant had he not gotten hurt. Nevertheless, the game did not produce that. But today, Bob Bradley will start his five-month job audition. Players like Kenny Cooper and Jonathan Bornstein will try to show their international worth while others like Eddie Johnson will try to show that they still have it.

I normally don't get too excited about friendlies. As evidenced by last year's 5-0 U.S. rout, they typically mean little. But today's will carry extra weight and should be an enjoyable match.

I just hope my early-morning wake-up call doesn't make me fall asleep at halftime.