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Archive for April, 2010

Mr. Davies has been getting a lot of press since the report out of Sochaux last week that he will miss the remainder of their season (a report which he doesn’t entirely agree with).

This morning, once again courtesy of Jeffrey Marcus at the NYTimes, they posted a compilation interview that occcured with Davies over the last few months.  CLICK HERE.

It is the first time I have seen anything since the ESPN/SportsCenter interview late last year with him on where you really get a sense for how he’s feeling and the struggle he has gone through.

He readily admits that it was his own poor judgement which put him in this position, but is also amazingly confident at his chances to make the World Cup squad.  An attribute which only amplifies his natural ability as a striker.  I.e., in response to whether he might not be the same player…

“I might not. I could be even better, with this different outlook that I have, this different appreciation I have. I could be more effective just with that extra push every time I get on the field. We’ll see. That’s the only thing that’s gotten me this far, pushing to see how far I can get.”

He exudes this this sense of confidence and belief that ‘impossible is nothing’ (*Kevin Garnett) throughout the interview.  Honestly, it’s awesome and only serves himself and his teammates well.  The American team has often lacked a sense of swagger and while beating Spain last summer definitely helped confidence going into this summer, the subsequent loss in Mexico City brought them back to earth a bit.

He does note that he will need to play a few matches at full speed before being considered as part of the final roster of 23.  Hopefully, he can find the field in France, at least as a substitute but if not, it will be interesting to see if he takes part in any of the US’s final warm ups at the end of May (5/25 v Czech Republic and 5/29 v Turkey).  Those will be the real sign of what kind of role Bradley expects him to play.

I will continue to post here regarding any major news about his recovery as we get closer to the May 17th camp.  For any updates between now and then, his Twitter feed is an awesome resource.

Others…

Can’t forget the injury to Oguchi Onyewu during the Costa Rica game as well.  The news about him is definitely not as common, probably due to the sensationalistic nature of Davies’ accident, but it seems he is at least on track although there is probably less of a chance he will play again this year for AC Milan.

Clint Dempsey was featured on the WWLs E:60 last night (I haven’t watched yet) but you can see the complete segment right here….

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With the French national team and their penchant providing consistent media fodder as the World Cup approaches the 45 day mark (tomorrow), I thought it would be a good time to pay the tournament some attention here.  It’s also a rainy Monday, and what better way to break that up then with some sweet World Cup YouTubing.

ESPN World Cup Commercials

ESPN released a new commercial late last week in order to continue building hype and excitement around the event….it does a way better job than I ever could….

Wasn’t that fun everyone? Despite the use of Bono, I can’t help but get some goosebumps from that.

There is also this one touting Martin Tyler’s joining of ESPN from a few months ago, a little more soccer centric, so it’s coolness takes on a bit of a separate tone…

America

Moving into a more locally focused video…some amateur American filmmakers have put together a multi-part documentary focused on Soccer in America, specifically the US Men’s Team and the road they have taken to get to South Africa. It is thorough in its coverage and does a great job of providing a snap shot of the passionate subculture of the wildly enthusiastic fan contingent known as Sam’s Army.

The production quality is very high for a YouTube only release (as far as I know) and definitely worth the 7 minutes.

Despite their shortcomings, this first episode will remind you that, if healthy, this team can beat anyone out there over the course of 90 minutes…anyone that is, except Brazil.

That’s it for video today but there have been some other interesting old fashioned written pieces out there over the course of the day.

Charlie Davies update

The NYTimes Jeffrey Marcus takes a look at Charlie Davies recovery progress and where his World Cup chances stand. We are only about 3 weeks away from Bob Bradley’s final 30 man camp in Princeton, NJ and if Davies can get the call to that then it must be seen as a good sign regarding his chances.

To be blunt though, there are other American strikers out there making an impact who could push him out due to lack of playing time (always considered an important Bradley factor).  Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle have been lighting up the Mexican Clasura and MLS respectively and could push an out of shape Davies from consideration.

I do think Davies deserves a shot, at least in that camp and then leave it up to the coaching staff to evaluate him.  He has shown too much ability and understanding with Altidore to be left from consideration.  I think Bradley is as anxious as the rest of us to see how he has progressed.

Additionally, according to his Twitter feed, he has resumed full training w/the club.  Despite the club’s statement last week that he will not be ready to play again this season, this is an excellent sign as getting in full speed work puts him in better position heading into that May USMNT camp (if he gets an invite.

Freddy Adu? Unlikely

Grant Wahl had an excellent piece in the April 19th issue of SI on Freddy Adu and what has kept him from taking that next step. The sources he quotes are very insightful and cover a wide array of people who have been close to Adu’s journey.  Definitely worth a read.

That’s all for now, but I will keep posting the Road to South Africa videos from YouTube.  However, this week my focus is turning to the 2nd leg of the CL semi-finals.  Visca el barca.

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This was originally going to be a post about the lack of an EPL team in the Champions League final since 2003; however, being a Barcelona fan, I must give due credit to today’s 2-0 result at the Bernabeu. Rather than talk, here are some ghetto highlights…

If anyone had a doubt about the level at which Lionel Messi is playing, there is no longer an argument about him being the best player in the world right now. You could argue that I am just making a statement for the self important reasons of making a statement like that, but it is so easy to say, there should be no illusions about my motive. It’s true, thats it.

Due credit must be given to the team around him with out which this wouldn’t be possible. If I had the resources, I would love to know the % of Messi’s goals which have been assisted by Xavi Hernandez. He served the first one today on a platter and played an inch perfect pass on Pedro’s 2nd half effort to put Barca up 2-0. With out some excellent goal keeping from Iker Casillas, there is no doubt that Lionel could have had an additional 2 goals, both supplied by Xavi.

The game itself was everything it was billed to be, probably only because in my opinion there are fewer things greater than watching Barcelona completely outclass Real Madrid. Carlos Puyol brought his usual ‘reserved only for El Classico’ performance, Pedro continued his breakout season, and it was evident that Real Madrid were frustrated after Messi’s opener.

Credit should also be given to Pique and Milito for anchoring the defense, Keita for being relentlessly active in the midfield, and Dani Alves for providing a right sided attack when Guardiola moves Leo into the middle.

The fact that Real Madrid attempted to spend their way to Barcelona’s level and are already out of Champions League only made it sweeter. Barcelona is now in prime position to win their 2nd La Liga title in a row; 7 games remain and they are up 3 points, leading on the first tiebreaker (head to head record).

Coming less than a week after Messi’s incandescent personal defeat of Arsenal (an obvious overstatement, but more than one website has listed that performance as a perfect 10…video just below) is what has actually put an end to any debate about his current form. His control is immaculate, his time to top speed unmatched, and the overall rythym of his game set him apart from absolutely everyone else out there.  In fact, that statement alone trivializes his game right now.  Enough Slurp?  Ladies and gentlemen, the hilites…

Ever??

The British announcer calls him “the most talented footballer of his generation,” others will make similar statements for various reasons, and there is an argument to be made there.  Personally, I would say that to be considered among the truly great footballers of all time, that  rare tier of 3 or maybe 4 players, he must succeed on the world stage.

He is currently turning himself and Argentina’s success into the main story line during the lead up t0 the upcoming World Cup.  It is a different game though and single elimination can be a doozy for any team.  While failure doesn’t rule him out, it will mean another 4 years until he is afforded the opportunity again.

Others…

A good collection of world reaction to Tuesday’s win from the NYTimes.

A good look at Messi’s status around the World from one of America’s most connected soccer writers.

Champion’s League Final Four

If Barcelona are able to repeat Champions League glory in the May 22nd final in Madrid, it will be the ultimate proverbial icing on the cake of 2 years of beautiful soccer, or cherry on top, or any other food related superlative. They will also be the first ever back to back champions in the “Champions League Era.”

Of course getting there will be very difficult. The upcoming semi-final is against an Inter Milan team which has the class, experience, and determination to stop Barcelona from playing their style. Of course, no one has really been able to effectively do that in a long time.

Eto’o coming back to send Barcelona packing almost seems true before it happens.  He is one of those athletes who elevates his game when he’s convinced he has been slighted or disrespected and the trade of him +43.25 Million Euros is, in my opinion, slightly disrespectful (this is the nature of running a successful professional sports team).

Additionally, Jose Mourinho has provided problems for the Catalans in the past, it should be noted that Barcelona got the better of the group stage battles (0 0 tie in Milan, and a 1 0 victory in the Nou Camp).

Mark it on your Calendar, April 20/28, 2:45 PM EST; second leg in Catalunya.

Donde Esta El Brits?

As stated earlier, up until today the headline from Europe must have been that this is the first time in 7 years that there is no English team in the final four of the Champions League.  While there was the obvious overreaction on the part of the British, this does not a represent a decline in the EPL but rather just the end of a great run of continental football.

In elimination style competitions, even two-leg versions, there are bound to be surprising trends (witness the Big East’s variation from the 2009 NCAA basketball tournament to this year’s version).

It was a brilliant goal from Arjen Robben (one of the deftest signings of last summer) which sent Bayern through to a semi final date with Lyon.  If you haven’t seen it….

While the Inter/Barca semi-final is the marquee matchup, neither of these teams should be counted out in the final. They have both beaten teams which many believe to be better them; Lyon over Madrid in the round of 16 and Bayern outplaying Man Utd in the Quarterfinals.

Lyon has experience in this competition and the confidence that comes with getting to this point. They are willing to sit back and take the goals when the opportunities present themselves. You must be finishing effectively for this to work and Lisandro has spear headed some excellent counter attacking football.

Munich’s attack pairing of Ribery and Robben is as fast and lethal as anything out there. With a goal in each leg vs United, Ivica Olic’s European performances have added that in form striker who can change the game on his own accord.

That is all for now…I continue to want to provide some updates on the USMNT but right now your soccer focus should be on the culmination of the European season over the next 6 weeks.

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