Danny Szetela loaned out to Brescia

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Steve Goff at the Washington Post has thrown this little teaser in his early evening round-up. It apparently is with an option to buy. Haven’t seen it anywhere else yet. Not even in the Italian press.
Szetela originally turned down an August offer from Brescia to sign for Racing Santander. With his Santander first-team hopes pretty remote, Serie B is not a bad destination for the midfielder. Even better, the Biancoazzurri are sitting in 6th place with close proximity to the leaders and promotion into Serie A. All with around 20 games to go.

He’s going to shine here. I have no doubt about it. Not only that, he gets to play some pretty damn good players – former Italian internationals Alessio Tacchinardi and Fabio Bazzani and 19 year old Hungarian starlet Adam Vass.

He’s going to prove himself in Italy.

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Bored or Just a Bastard?

It feels like a slow news day, so I may as well get something off my chest.

Since reading Goal.com’s short, early primer for the February 6 game between U.S. and Mexico – a game I’m rather excited about, by the way – I have been hiding subversive feelings in the hopes that they would go away.  No longer:

I hope Mexico wins.  Really.  Would it kill us to have things switch up a little?

To expand on that a little, I think I’m just fed up with watching what looks a lot like the same game over and over and over and over: Mexico presses, presses, presses, the U.S. scores (jubilation!); Mexico chases, presses, presses, presses, the U.S. scores – again; the Mexicans dish a couple hard fouls, maybe pick up a card here, an ejection there, their coach and some proportion of their players bitch about how cravenly we played…the end.

Here’s something else deepening the ennui.  How many fucking friendlies do we have to play against the TriColores?  Yeah, they’re fun games, yeah, I’m looking forward to it…but, seriously, let’s mix it up.  Please?

Look, when qualification comes – or even a Gold Cup final – I’ll take as many 2-0 wins as we can crank out and paint my damn face.  But seeing as this is a friendly, let’s trot out the final experimental U.S. men’s roster of 2008 – e.g. let’s not bother with the Euro contingent – and let the chips fall where they fall.  A loss that reveals which of our bubble players are ready and which are not seems infinitely more valuable to me than another friggin’ 2-0 win earned by the usual suspects.

Player Movements: The Sun Shines in Columbus, Hides from Colorado (+ 1 More)

In spite of the fact that the entire country seems under the thumb of a brutal winter, the Columbus Dispatch’s blog caught a sunbreak over Columbus: Guillermo Barros Schelotto reported for duty as scheduled (whoops; I overread this.  UPDATE: Schelotto is scheduled to show tomorrow; he’s only in Columbus today.  Thanks, again, to Covering the Crew, Shawn Mitchell’s blog for the Dispatch, for providing that detail, plus many, many, many more.  That blog is yours (and my) one-stop Crew news source.)

Now, if they can only bag Polish forward Maciej Zurawski – and he plays half as well as advertised (I’ve never seen him; no opinion) – the Crew may yet play a little offense this year. It sounds like negotiations are progressing, though one has to worry about this phrase: “MLS and Celtic were not close to an agreement on a transfer fee.” Yes. That does complicate things…

Still, if and when that gets wrapped up, Crew fans can worry about the defense…what with Marcos Gonazlez gone to Chile…though my trolling of the BigSoccer boards unearthed some deep unease about the Crew’s off-season progress (I think things turn ugly right around here, if not before).

Turning for a second to my “other” 2008 team, the question of whether Christian “Surplus” Gomez comes over from DC United looks like the only game in town. Here’s the latest as BigSoccer people know it (it’s one of those discussions absent news – e.g. the mechanics of the deal, e.g. the stuff about which I know so much less than jack and, somehow, care even less – don’t say I didn’t warn you).

– Just one other item of as-yet covered trade dish: Remember that Raphael Wicky (Wicky-Wicky-Woo…sorry) cat? The one Chivas USA sniffed around a little last year (if memory serves)? MLS Rumors says they’re at it again.

Between my total ignorance of both Wicky and Zurawski, it could be time for me to broaden my soccer-viewing horizons…at least during the off-season.

The Rest of MLS: Consider Yourselves…WARNED!

From the Deseret News (LINK):

“‘I’m just not going to offer any predictions, but I can say one thing, we’re going to be a better team,’ said [Real Salt Lake head coach Jason] Kreis, following the second day of training camp on Monday. ‘We’re going to be a fitter team, we’re going to be a mentally stronger team; those are the things I can make guarantees about.'”

And, with that, Real Salt Lake officially puts the rest of Major League Soccer (MLS) on notice.

Why does this makes me giggle?

CONCACAF CL: Ah, Canada…

File this under things I shouldn’t mention, but I don’t always thoroughly read all the items to which I link. Shocking, I know. And it’s possible you may have noticed this….hopefully not, though.

Personal issues notwithstanding, I finally read the announcement on the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League closely enough to catch an interesting detail:

“The CONCACAF Champions League will feature four teams from Mexico and USA; three Caribbean sides; two clubs each from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama; and one representative coming from Canada, Belize, and Nicaragua.”

Now, I don’t know enough about the professional game in Belize or Nicaragua (or even amateur game, for that matter), but I know enough about Canadian soccer for the bit in bold to have me scratch my head a little. My first thought went along the lines of, “Toronto FC gets an annual automatic bid? WTF?”

That would be silly, of course, and the Canadian(?) powers-that-be appreciated this. Canada’s spot will go to either Toronto FC or one of the Big Canadian Guns from the United Soccer Leagues Division 1, the Vancouver Whitecaps or the Montreal Impact (or L’Impact de Montreal…or is it du Montreal?). The precise format for qualification hasn’t yet been finalized, but this is a cool idea generally. Cool enough that I almost want to be Canadian. I mean, imagine the number of MLS clubs the Portland Timbers would have climb over to reach the same exhilarating pinnacle.

One last thing: they better get as much of this Champions League business on TV as they can…dammit.

EPL Daily 1.29: Woody with Spurs, Sissoko, Baros, Guzan, coming down to the wire

JONATHAN WOODGATE: The former Real Madrid central defender has been stuck in the mediocrity of Middlesbrough. After a transfer bidding war between Newcastle and Tottenham, the Spurs have come out on top – addressing a big issue within their line-up. Michael Dawson can’t be trusted and who knows when Ledley King is ever going to be fully fit again. Only Pascal Chimbonda can say he’s doing anything worthwhile. Woodgate went to Real Madrid as a young 24 year old, but with one major problem, huge injury issues. He solidified himself as a first team central defender but then the injuries hit, limiting him to 9 games over 3 seasons. Tottenham apparently picked Woody up for $16 million, but guess what? – a hamstring injury should keep him from joining their starting line-up for another 2-3 weeks. The Hotspur also look to finish up a deal for Scottish international and Rangers fullback Alan Hutton soon. The figure seems to be around $18 million. Clearly, Juande Ramos is addressing their major weaknesses and not afraid to spend the cash for true talent…less so potential.

MO SISSOKO: The Mali international got his wish and hell of a wish come true at that. 22-year old Sissoko was pissed at not getting the chances he deserved at Anfield and wanted more playing time. Can’t really blame the kid as he was asked to wait behind the likes of Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, and Xabi Alonso. His time looks to increase two-fold at Juve with an aging Pavel Nedved, Cristiano Zanetti, and inexperienced Antonio Nocerino leading the way. Juventus’ midfield has provided only 7 of the 46 goals scored this year. Sissoko is generally considered a defensive midfielder but don’t count out the possibility of him getting a little more free reign at the Delle Alpi. The proceeds from Sissoko’s transfer looks to be the money Liverpool needs to pay for a permanent capture of Javier Mascherano.

MILAN BAROS: …………..is back!! The underperforming former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker has returned to the EPL from French juggernauts Olympique Lyonnais and this time with his scoring touch, hopefully, intact. This one flew under the radar as Baros will be moving on loan. His reasoning? What else but lack of playing time. Milan – if you scored more and bitched less, you’d be starting in Lyon. Regardless, he will get the playing time needed at Pompey under Redknapp cause they’re dealing with Kanu and Utaka gone at the AFC and David Nugent just picking up an injury. We’ll give him props for at least a year over at Stade de Gerland.

BRAD GUZAN: No need to recap this. You all read it on Soccer by ives.

RUMORS: Barcelona’s Eidur Gudjohnsen back to the EPL, this time with Bolton (still need that Anelka replacement); Afonso Alves to Middlesbrough is still in the works, getting closer apparently; Joleon Lescott to either Manchester United or Arsenal

OTHER COMPLETED MOVES: Dennis Wise (head coach at Leeds United) to Newcastle in the position of Executive Director (whatever that means); Aston Villa’s Olof Mellberg to Juventus (Bosman ruling, Summer 2008); Manchester City’s Giorgios Samaras to Celtic on loan; Racing Lens’ Jimmy Kebe to Reading