La Selección: Spain v Italy- The Preview*

(*Note that I tend to do ‘previews’ a bit different from everyone else (i.e. I just talk about whatever I feel is relevant to the game in no order!)

To start off, here are the 20 players picked by Luis ‘The Old Man’ Aragonés himself.

Arsenal: Cesc

FC Barcelona: Puyol, Iniesta y Xavi

Betis: Juanito

Espanyol: Luis García y Riera

Getafe: De la Red

Liverpool: Arbeloa, Reina, Torres y Xabi Alonso

Real Madrid: Casillas y Sergio Ramos

Mallorca: Fernando Navarro y Güiza

Valencia: Albiol, Marchena, Silva y Villa

Villarreal: Capdevila y Senna.

No Raul???? Shocking, isn’t it?

De La Red Gets the Call

There has been all sorts of talk surrounding this game the last few days. The biggest buzz is the call up of Rubén de La Red, who is on loan to Getafe this season from Real Madrid. Last year, de La Red couldn’t get a shot in Madrid, but a small move to the suburbs of the capital city sees him take on a pivotal role for el geta this season.

He’s on 2 goals and 3 assists for the season, but he has played in 29 games so far. Laudrup looks to the young Madridista as a solid player in the middle of the field and he can prove his worth. I’ve only seen him in a few games this season, but from what I remember the boy can play.

In an article today in AS, the youngster said ‘If it was up to me, I would go back to Madrid’, though he said he does thank Getafe for giving him an opportunity this season (but I can’t find the article it was on).

Luis had this to say about the youngster.

“Es un jugador que está creciendo, puede jugar por delante de la línea de centro del campo. A cualquier jugador que veamos en buena forma le vamos a dar la oportunidad de poder venir’

‘He’s a young player who’s growing, he can play in front of the midfielders. Any player that we see looking good, we will give him the opportunity to be able to come.’

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MLS Daily Sweeper, 03.24: Resources, Riots, and Goal-Scoring Mysteries

Again…most go quickly…no photos, etc.

Climbing the Ladder – god bless ‘im – posted something wonderful: expected starting elevens for every team in Major League Soccer (MLS), broken down by conference (Eastern and Western).  I will be using those for my upcoming conference previews (Tuesday? Wednesday? just some time before Saturday)…unlike the, um, previews I’ve been saving for the past two weeks.  Also, go vote in his MLS survey.

MLS Rumors picked up reports of fan/security misbehavior during last week’s CONCACAF Champions Cup quaterfinal between Deportivo Saprissa and Atlante FC.  If you don’t trust MLS Rumors, there’s video in the post as well as a link to an article from Medio Tiempo…unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish and don’t have time for (the ever-comical) Babelfish, so will just pass it on and let you make of it what you will.  Assuming it’s all accurate, it’d be interesting if Saprissa got slapped with a stadium ban for the semifinal v. Houston.  It will also be interesting if they don’t.  Suppose that makes this win/win, right?

– This one is just a little fun.  Who scored the winner in the Kansas City Wizards’ win over Real Salt Lake?  Was it Jimmy ConradScott Sealy?  Drum-roll, please…by a score of two sources to one, Conrad has it!  The more surprising thing is how anyone confused Sealy and Conrad…

– Finally, fans of the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC: click those links and enjoy your gloom.  Hmm.  Not there yet?  Well, try this, Toronto fans!  And this, Chicago fans!

Crew Swings Wildly, Dominates Salvadoran Champs

You can read about the Columbus Crew’s win over El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan, noting that new-man Nicolas Hernandez not only looked active and all right, but also scored the game’s lone goal; you’ll also read that the new-look back-line, anchored by Chad Marshall and Danny O’Rourke, held pretty well.  But you can’t really appreciate how lopsided this game was until you check the box score at the bottom of this one: the Crew fired 20 shots to Metapan’s 3.

And you tell yourself, good stuff….until you do some math: 1 goal on 20 shots.  Rut-roh.

I wish I had time to dwell on this a little more, but, because I’m pinned under life today, this will be a link-fest.  And it’s a great thing that Crew coverage looks pretty good this year, so there’s plenty to pass on:

Columbus Dispatch (main paper, with all its dryness)
Covering the Crew (Columbus Dispatch blog; elbows are a little sharper on play and attendance)
An American Game (I like the vibe I’m getting from this guy)

According to the Crew’s official site, Columbus closed pre-season 6-4-0 – though I’m pretty sure they omitted a warm-up or three against college teams.  Not great, but, in MLS, that’s playoff bound ain’t it?

Before I, or anyone else, gets too cocky, I feel compelled to point out that Soccer By Ives included the Crew in a post on what teams aren’t ready for the regular season.  Another point – perhaps only somewhat related – bears noting: Toronto FC, the Crew’s opening day opponent, got on the wrong end of a public dumping by their head coach.  What am I getting at?  Even a three-legged bear can be dangerous when cornered – in other words, don’t all y’all go napping on opening day just because TFC looked like crap in pre-season.

Though it also bears mentioning that TFC made Soccer By Ives’ sorry short-list as well….and with considerably more justification…

EPL Weekend Recap: the Reds burn themselves, Chelski tops Arsenal, and Darren Bent the super-sub

Saturday, March 22nd

Newcastle 2, Fulham 0

Roy Hodgson did arguably nothing to try for the win in this one. Basically, Jimmy Bullard had free reign in the midfield and his “amazing shot” was deemed as the way to score. Yet none of his long range efforts hit home. McBride and Johnson started up front, but no service was given to them – except the time where both of them missed a well-struck cross 10 yards from goal. Other than that, it was frustrating as hell to watch them try and post Eddie Johnson up on Taylor and then have EJ pass it back while the Magpie centrebacks pressured him. Occasionally, this would produce space on the wing – but Simon Davies picked a bad day to become invisible (especially after a great performance against Everton). Coupled with Sunderland’s win, Bolton’s tie – it’s not looking too good for the Americans. Newcastle didn’t look too dangerous either but when you have game changers like Michael Owen and Obi Martins – games like this are bound to go your way. Owen scored the second, while Mark Viduka – back after a small stint on the sidelines – struck early for Newcastle. 

Tottenham 2, Portsmouth 0

Two late goals from Darren Bent and Jamie O’Hara gave the Spurs . One could even say the Jermain Defoe decision really affected an otherwise even match-up. Utaka, Baros, and Kanu couldn’t make up for the absence of Jermain Defoe who has struck for 6 in 6 games since coming over to Pompey. His absence, however, was part of the loan deal originally agreed upon in order to get his transfer from White Hart Lane to Fratton Park done before the deadline. Berbatov and Robbie Keane gave Sol Campbell and his back four some problems, but couldn’t find the net. It wasn’t until Ramos inserted Darren Bent in the 70th minute (super-sub mode like Jermain Defoe no less) that the goal followed. Bent also had his hand in youngster Jamie O’Hara’s goal several minutes later.

Other scores:

Middlesbrough 1, Derby 0 – Eddie Lewis played all ninety, but Sanli Tuncay gave Boro the win.

Blackburn 3, Wigan 1 – Two red cards – Samba for B’burn and Palacios for Wigan – headlined a physical performance. When Santa Cruz is on brace form though, the Rovers are really hard to beat. Brad Friedel did his part on the defensive end yet again.

Sunderland 1, Aston Villa 0 – The big upset of the weekend. Thanks to Michael Chopra’s 83rd minute winner, the Black Cats received some much needed breathing room.

Everton 1, West Ham United 1 – Yakubu’s early goal was countered a late Dean Ashton goal that Timmy Howard could do nothing about. Jonathan Spector came on in the 82nd after returning from successfully leading the US U-23s to an Olympic berth.

Reading 2, Birmingham 1 – A huge step-up from an unlikely hero allowed the Royals to grab three against a relegation foe. Cameroonian Andre Bikey captained an effective back four and also scored the brace that gave Reading the win. Valued at $30 million, Mauro Zarate grabbed the consolation goal for the Blues, who looked pretty disorganized. Marcus Hahnemann did his duty, while Bobby Convey didn’t dress. Stephen Hunt kept his stock rising heading into the offseason with another inspired performance on the wings.

Bolton 0, Manchester City 0 – A point is a point right now for the Wanderers and even though Gary Megson said Nicolas Anelka’s absence won’t matter in this relegation battle, they could have used the now Chelsea man on Saturday. One good sign for Bolton was that they dictated the run of play, but their remaining fixtures put them in dark territory the rest of the way. 

Sunday, March 23rd

Manchester United 3, Liverpool 0

Liverpool was in it – they were getting crushed on shots attempted, etc, but they were still in it to say the least. That is until…Javier Maschareno bitched himself out of the game. The Argentinian decided to continue protest of a call past the boiling point of the head ref while he was already carrying a card to his name. None of his teammates decided to intervene and tell the man to shut his trap. Right before half time, Mascherano was sent off and United took control of the game. The Reds fought, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani both broke through with 10 minutes to go and the game was put out of reach. Wes Brown scored the first goal for United. Can anyone stop Ronaldo from scoring?

Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1

Didier the decider. Two late goals from the Ivorian trounced an earlier go-ahead goal by Arsenal’s fullback Bacary Sagna. Sagna headed home a Cesc Fabregas corner and his first goal ever for the Gunners to push ahead 10 minutes into the second half, but Drogba came through after surviving a frustrating first half. Partly thanks to Lampard and Joe Cole’s endeavors in the midfield, Drogba was given the firm opportunity to lift the spirits of Chelsea’s faithful past their growing disdain for Avram Grant’s tactics and style of play. The Blues have moved into second now, trailing Manchester United by 5 points – making that eventual derby a BIG one. 

USA in Poland, Roster for Wednesday: No Real Surprises

Except for the one and only Cory Gibbs – the oft-injured defender might make a return for his country before he returns for his club, Charlton.

GOALKEEPERS: Marcus Hahnemann (Reading FC), Tim Howard (Everton FC)

DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Cory Gibbs (Charlton Athletic), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Eddie Lewis (Derby County)

FORWARDS: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich)

Clearly, no Edu, Altidore or Adu because of the Olympic Qualifying. Is there anyone else that should have been included…? Is Eddie Lewis really that important to this squad that we need to keep calling him in? Despite their 1-0 OT loss to Honduras, is there anyone else other than the three mentioned above that you would like to see apart of the set-up soon – Orozco, Hill, Holden?

The game will be shown on FSC at 3:30pm.