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In what was a major soccer weekend in the UK as the Premier League came down to the wire, there was also some relevant news in regards to the US and their squad for next month.

A few brief notes to start the week off, admitedly a bit belatedly…

Tomorrow (Tuesday 5/11) at 2PM EST on ESPN News Bob Bradley will hold a press conference and announce his provisional 30 man roster for the upcoming training camp.  The final 23 man roster will likely come out of this list and it could end up being in the 28 man range rather than taking all 30 spots.  There are a ton of instances of random people theorizing who they think will be included tomorrow, it is a futile exercise…Bob Bradley will choose who Bob Bradley and co want to choose.

USSoccer.com has an excellent blog post running down some of the positive US related news from the European weekend.  Positive injury news includes…

  • Stuart Holden returning from his broken leg suffered in the Netherlands friendly in February to play the final 30 minutes of Bolton’s season.
  • Oguchi Onyewu traveling as part of the 23 man squad to Genoa for AC Milan’s penultimate fixture.  He did not however make the final 18 available for duty.

More Charlie Davies (are you really surprised?) in the form of an excellent interview from The Shin Guardian.  His is obviously the name that everyone will be watching for during tomorrow’s press conference as his inclusion means the chance remains that he ends up in the final 23.  I still admire the kid’s continued positive outlook on his chances despite the continued negative press and repeated interviews.  I do worry that he states he has worked to hard to come up short; if he gets to the final 30 but is not deemed fit or sharp enough to make the final 23, what is that going to do to his psyche?  I think he’s a strong kid but that would take away the main goal at the end of all this rehab, would he be able to maintain the mental fortitude needed to come back this fall and continue his development with Sochaux during a full European season with the next World Cup 3+ years away?

Continuing with the US theme, here is that next video from the “Road To South Africa” documentary….this one focuses on last August’s trip to the Azteca.  The first person video is awesome.

Foreign Flavor

To end with some news from outside the continent, b/c after all, this is the World Cup…

Spain released their 30-man roster today.  It includes the injured midfield trio of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Cesc Fabregas…along with Liverpool frontman Fernando Torres.

I am obviously a sucker for video montages or hype-commercials…here is the latest from the BBC…

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Bright and early here today in the US they drew the pairings for the final 16 of the 09/10 Champions League.  Here are the pairings with a brief bit of my feelings on each one….

AC Milan v Man Utd: Feb 16/March 10

One of the two marquee draws in this round takes David Beckham back to Old Trafford for what should be a fascinating second leg.  Last year MU totally outclassed Inter in this same round and surely Alex Ferguson will have some similar tricks up his sleeve.  AC Milan has turned it around after a rough patch to start the season and will surely hope that Beckham adds to their depth as they seek a return to European glory; I think they have the better chance of the two Italian sides although its so hard to bet against anyone with the title of Sir.

Olympique Lyon v Real Madrid: Feb 16/March 10

The pressure is on Real Madrid to show that they have the class to make a European run along with an actual La Liga title challenge.  OL lost at this same stage to eventual champions Barcelona last year but put together a strong run this year despite losing Karim Benzema/Juninho/Fabio Grosso.  Always a talented and well managed side, they will be looking for the upset but face an uphill challenge as the second leg is at the Bernabeu.

Bayern Munich v Fiorentina: Feb 17/March 9

BM has begun to get rolling in both Europe and at home as was clear in their 4-1 smoking of Juve in Torino needed to push them through to the knockout stage.  Fiorentina was one of the more impressive sides in group play, 2nd among all teams with 15 points from 6 games.  They also enjoy the home field advantage and have to like their chances of advancing to the final 8.  Should be one of the more enjoyable fixtures.

Porto v Arsenal:  Feb 17/March 9

Despite Porto’s impressive 12 pts from 6 matches, they came in 2nd and therefore drew one of the always tough EPL sides in the round of 16.  All is not lost though as Arsenal has been nothing if not inconsistent this year and w/o Robin Van Persie have had some trouble finding the net recently.  A January signing could be on the books for Arsene Wenger but either way, this could be a upset in the making.

Olympiakos v Bordeaux: Feb 23/March 17

After impressively leading all teams with 16 points from the 6 group stage matches Bordeaux looks to continue their form against the Greek side.  If Bordeaux can hold onto Marouane Chamakh in the January window, I like the French side to make a run into the final four this year.  Greece is quite a trip to make but GdB has shown nothing but class throughout the tournament thus far, beating Bayern 2x and Juve once.

Stuttgart v Barcelona: Feb 23/March 17

The defending champions have to like the fact that they avoided Milan in this round and should advance with out too much trouble.  I see Stuttgart trying to defend w/the house in the first leg but over 180 minutes Barcelona’s class should see them through w/o much of a problem.

Inter Milan v Chelsea: Feb 24/March 16

The other marquee fixture from the group stage is another Italian/English matchup.  As mentioned Mourinho had trouble with Man Utd last year in this stage but I am sure he will find inspiration in his return to Stamford Bridge.  Inter is also blessed with a little more depth up front this year as Mario Balotelli has shown an extremely keen eye for the net.  Chelsea however are playing as well as any team in Europe right now and after two years of heartbreak in a row, definitely have the final in Madrid as a goal of theirs.  I think maybe Milan can go through but Chelsea are too good and if they escape the African Cup of Nations with no major injuries, I think they will move on.

CSKA Moscow v Sevilla: Feb 24/March 16

Sevilla started out the group stage in fine form but have faded on both the domestic and European front as of late.  They do have the quality up front to keep up with a talented Moscow side and the 2nd leg advantage though and will definitely be favorites to advance.  One of these Eastern European sides will make a run eventually but the battle of free flowing football should play to Spainards advantage.

Americans

In other news…Landon Donovan followed up his MLS contract extension with a brief loan spell at Everton.  He will only be there until March and this could be a great experience for him.  Everton could use some depth and David Moyes has said he will make a few more signings in January.  Hopefully he is able to find the field though and put this time to use rather than spending a dreary British winter on the bench.  Everton will still be in the FA Cup, Europa League, and the EPL so the minutes are there for the taking, it is now up to Landon to seize them.

Probably no more updates for the next 10 days or so….so Happy Holidays to everyone!

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Refresh…F5…Updates are at the top here.

In the meantime, draw your own conclusions by taking a look at the groups and match schedule here. Please leave comments on thoughts on any and all pairings below!

Switzerland rounds it out and that is a wrap on the Draw for World Cup 2010.  I will have a bit of a deeper view later today.

Slovakia into groupF leaving Portugal in a group with their language mates Brazil or their Iberian neighbors Spain….and it is Group G with Brazil which will be a dangerous group for one of those teams with Ivory Coast carrying a lot of talent.  GROUP OF DEATH LABEL!!!!!!

Greece into GroupB and rounding out Group C is Slovenia….the US must be relatively pleased with their chances for advancing now.

France into GroupA in what should be a difficult Group for the hosts.

That is all of Pot 3 and now it gets interesting as all groups have unfolded pretty evenly.  No one wants to see France or Portugal end up in their group.

There goes Algeria into GroupC with the US and England in what has to be viewed as a positive for the Americans.

And that is it for the first 2 Pots.  The first two african teams will be placed in B and G and the first non african team from Pot 3 will go into A…something about avoiding multiple African teams.  That first team is Nigeria, into GroupB.

And there is the US…drawn into GroupC with England.  Not a bad initial draw although I am sure the British will disagree.

Mexico gets lucky and draws GroupA.  They will also open the tournament on June 11th v South Africa in Johannesburg.

And that is it for Pot 1 and moving onto Pot 2 is where the US must watch carefully.  Group A has to be what all these teams are hoping for.

And that is David Beckham

Some sort of introduction of the people who will be drawing balls (haha)…not even going to try to spell the names.  Oh I do recognize that Charlize Theron is up there.

I believe that each pot gets exhausted and then they move on to the next pot so I am setting up Groups below to place teams into and will add comments at the top here when I have some commentary on a choice….

GroupA – South Africa/Mexico/Uruguay/France

GroupB – Argentina/Korea Republic (aka S Korea)/Nigeria/Greece

GroupC – England/USA/Algeria/Slovenia

GroupD – Germany/Australia/Ghana/Serbia

GroupE – Netherlands/Japan/Cameroon/Denmark

GroupF – Italy/New Zealand/Paraguay/Slovakia

GroupG – Brazil/Korea DPR (aka N Korea)/Ivory Coast/Portugal

GroupH – Spain/Honduras/Chile/Switzerland

To waste time until then check out this history of World Cup Balls (haha) from the Daily Telegraph and theNYTimes report w/video on the new Adidas Jabulani.

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Just a quick heads up on the USMNT’s schedule for the Gold Cup…

  • Saturday 7/4 @ 9 PM EST v Grenada (Qwest Field – Seattle)
  • Wednesday 7/8 @ 9 PM EST v Honduras (Soldier Field – Chicago)
  • Saturday 7/11 @ 7 PM EST v Haiti (Gillette Stadium – Foxboro)
All US games will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel and TeleFutura
Good news out of CONCACAF today; any team participating in the Confed cup and the Gold Cup in the same year can have a pool of 30 players for the entire tournament. It used to be that the pool was 23 with only 18 allowed on the field + bench for each game but now its a pool of 30 with 18 of those chosen for the field + bench for each game. Make sense?
Stay tuned for a Gold Cup “preview” tomorrow PM….

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