Is Iker Casillas the Best Keeper In The World?

There are two hot topics for debate right now in Spain.  The first, The Marcha Real (Spanish National Anthem) now has lyrics.  Some politicians say they ‘stink’.  Others like the new words.  The choice is yours.

The second and more important item for discussion is simply this:

Is Iker Casillas the best keeper in the world???

Normally these types of ‘Who’s Best?’ questions and lists turn me off for the simple fact that you can constantly argue that one player is better than another for a majority of reasons such as what league the player is in, what time frame, what position, etc.

However, I’ve watched the last couple Real Madrid matches (Thank you TVU Player and GOLTV) and I must say that Iker Casillas is simply spectacular in goal.

(I apologize for the horrendous Techno/Euro-pop music, really I do)

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MLS Combine: What I Know; What Other (Smarter) People Know

In my world, this is a combine:

Consequently, I’m going to turn this space over to links written by others, specifically, people who 1) have actually given some thought to how Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs build their teams through the draft, and, 2) actually went to watch the games MLS put on to showcase these prospects. I’ll start with the latter.

The best stuff I have come across came from 3rd Degree’s Buzz Carrick and Soccer by Ives’, um, Ives Galarcep. In case you haven’t seen these, see the link round-up below. Much as I wish I could say otherwise, I have nothing to add. I really don’t follow the college game in a meaningful way (or any way for that matter) and, as much as I tend to agree with Ives’ take on things especially, I’m just the kind of person who has to see for himself. As such, I’ll wait till the general conversation turns to players I have seen, or until the future gives me some time to put faces and talents to the many, many names Carrick and Galarcep throw around. Here goes:

Buzz Carrick
Day One Report
Day Two Report

Soccer by Ives
Day One “Off-Field” (e.g. stuff he’s hearing)
Day One Scouting
Day Two “Off-Field”
Day Two Scouting
Monday Morning Wrap threw out a couple posts as well, but, they take the form of profile pieces often as not (see: Julian Valentin and El-Hadj Cisse) which dulls my enthusiasm a bit. Still, they turned out a pair of regular reports as well (LINK and LINK).

Finally, a couple pundits offered up “big picture” pieces for this Superdraft week, both of them worth the read and a think afterwards. Ian Plenderleith explored the dark, miserly side of MLS on his way to posing the question of why any young man would want to sign with MLS on a developmental deal; like the rest of us, he hopes for better things, knowing all the while that the relevant parties won’t budge till 2009 at the soonest. The other piece, this one by’s Kyle McCarthy, looks at the surprisingly complicated process by which MLS coaches and GMs scout college prospects and set up the combine. It’s more readable than you think…trust me.

So…that’s that. I think I’m going to watch the Superdraft this Friday for the first time in my life. No, scratch that. Barring an emergency, I’m committing myself to watching the Superdraft. I can’t say the event interests me all that much – part of the reason I’ve never so much as considered it in the past – but I may as well see what it’s all about, right?

New Blog in the ‘Sphere

I had a lot of fun in the run up to the 2007 MLS Cup going back and forth with a guy who commented as “Martek.”  Good news: he’s just launched a site of his own, working with a couple friends.  The place is called Nutmegged.  Given Martek’s leanings, it should deal heavily with the Houston Dynamo and, quite possibly, loathing of FC Dallas.  And, so far as I’m concerned, it has one of the best sub-titles of any sight out there…but you’ll have to visit to find out what that is.

Good luck, guys.  Look forward to seeing the content.

Feilhaber to Israel…less weird than it sounds.

Keying off a BBC report (which, for the record, I didn’t read), Sports Illustrated’s FanNation reports Benny Feilhaber may move to the Israeli First Division, specifically, to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Not to bag on the Israeli league (as I may have done to, say, the Greek First Division…at some point), but this is not one of the regular destinations for players looking to “go to Europe.” Obviously, that Israel isn’t actually in Europe complicates things just a little.

That said, this isn’t a horrible move. To begin, there’s the promise of some European football. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Wikipedia page ends with a chart on how far the team got in various European competitions in recent years. Doesn’t look like Maccabi gets very far, and there’s more UEFA Cup than Champions League in there, but provided this means regular, competitive playing time, it improves on Feilhaber’s current pine-riding gig.

UPDATE: Thought I’d keep this post current in case Google or something refers people back to it.  Derby rejected Maccabi Tel Aviv’s offer for Feilhaber.  So, no Israel for this Yanqui.  There is talk, however, of interest from Major League Soccer (MLS)…and that’s more interesting still…and, possibly, driven by a desire to insure availability for the U.S. National team?

MLS Rumors Watch: Fun While It Lasted and, Hey, Ends on an Up

Call it the last of a long line of projects I assign myself, only to discover the mechanics of the thing proved more difficult than anticipated. The plan to track MLS Rumors’ success rate ended today when they posted a rumor with a four rating and a damned long timeline; the simple reality is, I’m unwilling to keep track of a rumor that won’t come together for 2 years, as is the case with Major League Soccer’s (MLS) possible, future inclusion in the Copa Libertadores. I think I’ve mentioend this in the past, but I’m lucky to leave the house with pants most mornings; I’ll be lucky if I remember my fucking name by the time an MLS team takes the field in the Copa Libertadores…a move I wholly endorse…provided we kill Superliga…which, according to MLS Rumors’ write-up, may yet become MLS clubs’ entry point into the Copa…or something to that effect.

Even without highly complicated timelines, I never quite settled on a way to cope with something like, say, the Eddie “EJ’s” Johnson to Fulham rumors. The basic concept has been floating around for over a week on sites like Down the Byline and damn near everyone (including me) made mention of what looked like multiple suitors for EJ’s hand….or rather, feet. Given the age and general knowledge of that one, and knowing I have neither the time nor inclination to discover whether their January 3 post was the first to mention it, I can’t comfortably credit MLS Rumors for getting it right – even if, as happened today, they whittled a wide-open field down to Fulham FC (with Steve Goff’s help) and predicted that Fulham would be the place in that January 3 post….when Derby seemed more possible…or something to that effect.

Long story short, rumors move too quickly and have too many moving parts. I imagine/hope I could do this if this was all I wanted to do, but it isn’t. So, I’ll just call things even – and they are, literally, at 2-2 – and walk away.

What took the MLS Rumors to a .500 record? I’m calling the Gonzalo Martinez to DC United rumor in the site’s favor. It’s not wrapped, sealed, and signed, but between the deal entering final negotiations prompting Steve Goff to advancing the story from his blog to the regular pages of the Washington Post and The Fullback Files telling me that Wikipedia (oh, bastion of truth) already has Martinez off to DC, things look pretty certain to end with Martinez wearing black and red. So, congratulations to MLS Rumors on a 50% success rate. I could only hope to do as well.

Now…let us never speak of this again…

EPL/World Soccer Daily 1.14: Starbucks FC? Disney FC? EJ to Fulham talk again…and more!

STARBUCKS FC: No, I’m not talking about the possibility of Seattle’s expansion squad being named after the biggest coffee chain in the country. I am, however, implying that Starbucks is looking into (and take this with a Daily Mail grain of salt) an EPL club to invest in. Who may that be you ask? Who has absolutely no chance of staying up this year, with an American influence to boot? Not Fulham….but Derby. Apparently an American hedgefund, Shamrock, run by Roy Disney himself (‘guardian of the Walt Disney Empire’), will take a majority shareholding in the club despite it’s feeble prospects as a Championship club next year. Just read on yourself…

EDDIE JOHNSON: I’m not one to argue with the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, and this time is no different. Goff is reporting that Johnson left USMNT Camp the other day to finalize talks with Fulham USA. The Cottagers need all they can get to avoid the relegation zone which they firmly stuck in at the moment.

JURGEN KLINSMANN: Apparently Tom Hicks and George Gillett (owners of Liverpool) were in advanced talks with Jurgen Klinsmann to bring him to Anfield. That was until he took the job with Bayern Munich. Now instead of covering it up, Hicks has come out and publicly stated that his intention was to sign Klinsmann as Rafa Benitez’s time at Anfield might be coming to an end.

KEVIN KEEGAN: Now the popular vote over at St. James’ Park to be Newcastle’s new victim…er…manager. Many – including myself – would like to see him link up with Alan Shearer, grooming Shearer to be the eventual successor. Doubt it will happen though.

ALEXANDRE PATO: The 18-year old AC Milan starlet was given his first start yesterday and he did what he was supposed to do…score. On top of that, Ronaldo looked like his youthful self making it seem that he most likely will be sticking around Milan for another year or so. It was a 5-2 victory for Milan and possibly a turn around point now that the crowd has their trio – chanting “Ka-Pa-Ro” a good amount of the game. Ka = Kaka, Pa = Pato, Ro = Ronaldo. Pato had about 4 clear chances on net before he actually put one in, Ronaldo had a brace after 2 days of training and 14 double cheeseburgers, and Kaka added his name to the mix as well.

TIM BOROWSKI: German international Borowski is set to make the switch from Werder Bremen to Bayern Munich at the end of the season making him new hire Jurgen Klinsmann’s first signing. Klinsmann himself won’t arrive til the end of the season, but he is already starting to put the pieces into place. Borowski didn’t even give Bremen a shot at re-signing him as he jumped at the chance to work with Klinsmann, former national team coach.