WWC: Not For Me

While I am a footie fan and follow the game worldwide, I am not a fan of the MLS, WPS or either the men’s or women’s USA national teams. Some individuals I talk to were surprised that I had no interest in watching the Women’s World Cup. Maybe it’s much like the WNBA, while their skills could be technically sound, watching them play is not my idea of exciting. I won’t deny what the women’s team have achieved in the past as they go for their third World Cup Championship (as I understand it).

As for the men’s team, their skill level is not on par with that of countries and clubs worldwide. There are some individual players who have made their livelihood playing abroad, for example Tim Howard, goalkeeper for Everton. Unfortunately after his little tirade when he was a sieve against Mexico I have lost much of the respect I had for one of the USA’s best players.

The game played in the states is not on par with the top leagues in countries like England, Spain, Italy just to name a few. Again, I have nothing to compare the women too since I have no idea the level of play of leagues outside the USA. I can’t even begin to comment on the WPS since the league is of no interest.

I am glad to see many non-soccer enthusiasts excited for the Women’s World Cup final, but I won’t be one of the many watching or really caring about the outcome of the game. For me the excitement begins with the new EPL season, August 13th with friendly matches kicking off this weekend.

America Plays Soccer, the World, Football

I believe there are many fans who are supporting their nation during the 2010 World Cup are not fans of the game, especially in the US. I am sure the same can be said of other countries too, but I chose the US because football…er…soccer as most Americans call it is not one of the top sports played in the states especially at the youth levels cannot compare to that of baseball, football, basketball and even hockey or auto racing.

Now that I have said that, I have received e-mails and comments saying I have “un-American” and “not patriotic” amongst other colorful adjectives when it comes to my lack of support for the US Men’s National Soccer Team. While not Italian, I have support the Azzurri since I started watching football from the Serie A, being a supporter of AS Roma, it stands to reason I fly my colors for Italy when the World Cup comes around.

Many “fans” seem to have a problem because I lend no support to my home nation. Why should I? First, the sport is not popular in America. Their professional league is mediocre at best, usually used as a playground for older European players. Any homegrown talent makes the move to Europe in order to advance their football careers.

Through out this World Cup I have found myself cheering for the likes of North Korea, Switzerland, Japan and New Zealand. Not necessarily strong teams when it comes to international competition, but because they have pushed some of the perennial favorites and in some cases victory. It’s more than just about your home nation. This is “the beautiful game” and watching players of this caliber on the international stage provides for some great football.

I will give credit where it is due, the US did create two nice goals versus Slovenia as they came from behind to draw. Funny, but when the US drew 1-1 with England many in the media and fans called it “a win.” Not sure how they come up with that logic, but whatever makes them feel successful.

Much like England, the US is underachieving in this World Cup, England more so. Another point versus Algeria and they will be on the long flight home possibly ending another three and out campaign at the World Cup. We have already heard the cries of “foul” for the disallowed goal that would have given the US a victory yesterday. Wouldn’t be the first time and I am sure it won’t be the last. Take your lumps and move on. Just ask France, who shouldn’t even be in South Africa if it were not for Thierry Henry’s “Hand of God” moment.

FoxSoccer.com: WTF?

I am beginning to resent reading articles from FoxSoccer. The writers who have provided recent content are not good. Maybe some of this can be knocked off to the 2010 World Cup. I doubt it, but I was looking for some excuse to continue reading what they print.

How about we start with Jamie Trecker. He claims to be a “working journalist for 25 years” but his writing begs the question, “Does he really follow the beautiful game?” He has been covering the 32 nations competing in this year’s world Cup, but there has been a considerable amount of inaccurate “journalism” (if you can call it that) provided. Much of the country history provided could be found on Wikipedia and probably more accurate that some of the information he has attempted to convey.

When it comes to the nations and players his style of writing seems to continue done a poor path. Anyone with an opinion can be called a “working journalist.” Hell, by me writing this why don’t I call myself a journalist, but unlike Trecker I have a real job. Chances are I could have provided as good of synopsis as he has done for 29 days. I already know the homer support for the USA when it comes to the last team he will write about.

Today, it went from bad to worse with Robert Burns, “a senior editor” submitting a piece titled, “Burning our flag should incite U.S. payback.” It is an absolutely terrible article about “a mob of despondent Liverpool supporters” who burned a U.S. flag in protest because of the American owners.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Jr have been terrible owners for Liverpool. Want to know why L’pool had such as poor season, outside of injuries, look at the owners. Of course you see them on TV sitting in their box, looking like footie fans, but we know better. “I’m disappointed because I think we’ve done everything we can to improve the club in so many ways over the past three years from the way it had been run before,” said Tom Hicks. The only success L’pool had was in 2006 when the Americans took ownership losing in the Champions League final.

As the Liverpool motto goes, “You’ll never walk alone.” The only ones who should be walking alone are Hicks and Gillett making sure the door does not hit them in the ass on the way out.

Now that I am worked up, the article is nothing more than a poorly planned hit piece attempting to banter support for the USA prior to their first group round game with England. This is not a newsworthy story at all. Who cares what a few Liverpool supports did. Much like the mainstream media, Robert Burns has taken an isolated incident and turned it into an international disaster.

Mr. Burns who cares if another country is burning our flag. We have seen these actions by many countries over the year. Americans still don’t know shit about, what they call “soccer” while the world call it football. On Saturday that big stick you see and feel will be the US being smacked upside the head once again, by another superior nation on the pitch. Keep asinine articles like this to yourself. I am shocked Fox Soccer would allow such a thing. Guess there are always other, more reputable football sites to read.

USA: Not Good

Since I continue to be lambasted by some on social networking site regarding MY OPINIONS about the upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I figured I would say my peace here without any repercussions. Right?

It comes as no surprise the list of favorites is short and distinguished. Oddly enough, Spain, who makes that list has NEVER won a World Cup. While they are arguably the top favorite, I give Brazil that nod. Why? First, they are healthy (Kaka is still recovering and Cesar should be in goal). Second they are the most talented team, not only in the starting XI, but also off the bench.

Some could argue Group G is the “Group of Death” with Portugal and Ivory Coast, along with step-child, North Korea. With Ivory Coast’s Drogba dinged up I think Portugal has improved their chances to advance. Brazil should have no problems in the group and should win the group with 9 points and advance.

The USA will not make it out of the group stage. I am sticking to my opinion they won’t score in the group stage. People seem to get rather upset at both statements. Why? I don’t know. Led by an egotistical, Landon Donovan the Americas will struggle in South Africa. They are not a strong team, regardless of their two victories in meaningless friendlies matches the past 10 days.

When it comes to the real competition, the USA seems to stumble and end up flat on their face. Case in point, 2006, Germany. After a successful 2002 campaign in the Far East they could only muster a single team-scored goal versus Ghana and ended with a 0-1-2 record. Why should there any any optimism for 2010?

Their coach has no experience on the international level and many of their players who play abroad are not regular starters. The international experience is seriously lacking on this team. I will give them a plus in the leadership category. Tim Howard is the leader of this team, not Landon “chip on my shoulder” Donovan. Howard was a bright spot all year (again) in Everton and will have to play his ass off with a shaky defense in front of him.

I find it rather funny the USA falls back on the “We beat Spain in the Confederations Cup!” So what! It is a rather meaningless tournament as a prelude to the 2010 World Cup. Italy fared no better than were talked about for weeks after a horrible performance. Remember, this tourney like friendlies ARE MEANINGLESS!

So for all the American fans, you might turn off the World Cup and turn on something you know better like the NBA or even the MLB. I am sure there will be games this coming weekend, as well as the entire World Cup. Don’t be upset when the USA drops all 3 games and doesn’t score. Soccer is not an American sport, so it’s not surprising they do not excel like they do worldwide in other competitions.

Premiership Golden for Landon?

Here we go again in the world of football. Landon Donovan, who is the whinny “golden boy” of American soccer has finalized a January loan dealing taking him to the Premiership and Goodison Park, home to Everton. Thankfully David Beckham doesn’t play at Manchester U any longer because, much like his teammate on the Galaxy he will continue to live in the shadow of soccer greatness.

I really can’t believe I called Beckham “great” but I must give him some accolades because he was truly magical in his years at Manchester United, but since moving to Real Madid and then to the US to be nothing more than a washed up has been he has lost much of that magic. I still don’t believe he should be in the starting XI at Milan, but then again I guess it’s a decision like that, that prevents me from being a Manager.

I don’t see the American golden boy as the top player for the Toffees. American Tim Howard is still a class act, while not in particular form currently is the best American player. Phil Neville is the captain, but in his absence (injury) Howard has worn the armband. The Australian, Tim Cahill is another classy player for Everton. The big problem for Everton this year has been injuries, which has them near the bottom of the table, a single point above the relegation zone.

Adding Donovan doesn’t make them an immediate contender, but it could be a stop gap and help to prevent any further drop in the Premiership. I don’t see him in the starting XI. Sure he has some talent, at least playing the “American” game, but does he have what it takes to find success in Europe?

I don’t think he does. Sure there are other Americans playing abroad, Clint Dempsey at Fulham comes to find, DaMarcus Beasley for Rangers in Scotland are just two field players. I do believe Landon will struggle early on, not only to find form but to come to terms with the European game. Yes, I am well away he is the “MVP” but again that is the American version of football…soccer, the MLS, which is NOT a top league in the world.

I think this loan move only fuels the fire between his ego and that of David Beckham, which will continue to hold interest leading up to World Cup 2010, when England opens with the US on June 11. Now we have teammates in Los Angeles, both on loan deals, playing in Europe (Beckham at AC Milan) who will face off in South Africa.

In my limited Premiership experience, Landon Donovan is nothing more than an option for David Moyes, who continues to juggle his starting XI because of all the injuries. Time will tell just how the American golden boy does. I do believe his “golden” image will be tarnished as he won’t be able to contend immediately with the pace of the game. His spell at Everton will be short before heading back to the MLS. Do we smell a sale of Landon in the future to the Toffees? Possibly.

Go Home Fraud!

Ah yes…another great story about the MLS savior, David Beckham. Pretty bad when most of the football news I post ends up being another negative story of a fading legend. And yes, I will give him his due props, but his best days on the pitch are in the past. I think Fabio Capello is making a mistake by capping Beckham. His skills, while good for MLS standards no longer up to the level they once were when he was in his prime in the Premiership.

This gem comes from Foxsoccer.com, “Beckham confronts fan in home return with Galaxy“. While it is rare I support US soccer fans, but in this story I support their claims of Beckham being a “fraud.” As I have posted before he was brought in at a ridiculous salary in order to “inject” his influence into the lagging MLS. Unfortunately, he has achieved nothing and is now paying the price.

I’m not disappointed. It doesn’t affect me,” he said. “You can’t be liked by everyone.” He is quoted as saying after his on loan club, AC Milan and his home club, LA Galaxy drew 2-2 last night. I don’t agree with fans attempting to take actions by jumping on the pitch in order to go face to face with ‘Becks.’ That is over the line. Yet this “experiment” is going from bad to worse as tensions continue to rise in LA.

Beckham and US Soccer’s pretty boy and teammate on the Galaxy, Landon Donovan continued to exchange verbal insults calling each other “unprofessional” in regards to Beckham’s book, “The Beckham Experiment.” I really don’t understand why the Galaxy want to continue this relationship with Beckham. Maybe the idea of any publicity, even bad ends up selling tickets and putting much needs butts in seats at The Home Depot Center.

I do believe Beckham will end up playing with AC Milan full time. Not sure when the Galaxy will finally sell his contract, take a huge lose and call this experiment over. The ONLY reason he continues to play in the MLS is in an attempt to keep his name in the starting eleven for the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. Rest assured, if he was not playing during the off season, Capello would not consider capping him.

As of now Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry are all in better form than Beckham is. All that David is doing is taking up a spot on the roster for a younger, rising star who will be playing for the next 8 year like Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Stuart Downing, Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon.

I think this is probably the worst experiment ever attempted by a soccer league in the US. Even dating back to the 70s and 80s, with old NASL. They never had any issues this bad with their big name Europeans.

More MLS News, That Isn’t News

As you know I am not a fan of soccer that is played in the USA. I am a fan of world football that is played abroad. Yes, there is a difference. Yesterday on Fox Soccer some this story out of Los Angeles, home to the Galaxy and their “golden boy”, David Beckham. Unfortunately, fellow teammate and so-called “superstar” thinks Becks is a”bad teammate.”

Let’s go back to when the Galaxy made the announcement that David Beckham would be sporting a Galaxy jersey for a sum of $250 million dollars! Ridiculous? Yup. Dumb move by the MLS and the Galaxy? Yup. Did they not think this would happen? Guess not.

Donovan stated, “My sense is that David’s clearly frustrated, that he’s unhappy and, honestly, that he thinks it’s a joke.” Landon, my boy you hit the nail on the head with that comment. The MLS is a joke, league play is nowhere near the level of competition seen in England, Italy or worldwide. I think a player of his caliber would be unhappy in a situation like this. Guess he came here for the money, huh?

This “experiment” has been a failure clearly. I think the fans, the city and the league expected big things from a single player to jolt the league to a new level. Obviously that was never going to be the case. It has been attempted in the past and yielded very little in terms of results.

What should happen, now that Landon is unhappy with David? Not that it will matter much, cut Beckham and that salary loose, let him go back to Italy and AC Milan on a full time basis as he prepares for World Cup 2010. Sure the Galaxy loose a big name, be headed, bad teammate as a player, but in the long run will be better off as a team. Of course this still isn’t saying much for a sub par league, in the the MLS.

No, USA Is Not That Good

Team USA in the Gold Cup match of the Confederations Cup. Great news for those fans of US Soccer, but for those who enjoy world class football the result was to be expected. I will give the US credit for beating Egypt 2-0 in order to advance to the cup, but then again Egypt is not a world powerhouse when it comes to football. Unfortunately, the strong, yet aging Italians could not put together much of a showing versus Brazil and ended up watching from the sidelines.

I was able to watch the second half of the USA v Brazil match yesterday while at work. I was shocked, as probably most football fans were. First because the US was up at the break. But second they were up 2-0! Not sure which came as a bigger surprise. Yet one of the problems with being up by 2-0 is complacency. It’s that false sense of security a team gets when they know they can make a mistake and still leading the match. Yet the game does not end until the whistle blows and the US could not manage much in the second half.

It was quite evident within minutes that Brazil was faster, stronger and better on the pitch when the whistle blew. But again, we football (not disillusioned US Soccer fans) fans knew that going into the Gold Cup game. After the first goal by Luis Fabiano, you knew the Brazilians meant business and were not going to let the match slip away.

Though out much of the second half Tim Howard (Everton) was under siege by the multifaceted threats that Brazil possessed. If it was not Kaka, it was Robinho. Yet in the end it was excellent control and execution by Brazil that just worn the US defense down to a point where they were ball watching by the 60 minute mark.

While I am not a US soccer fan, I am a big fan of Tim Howard, goalkeeper for Everton. He is one of the “elder statesman” along with names like Beasley, Donovan, Bocanegra and Hedjuk that have been together for years. Yet each year we hear there will be grand things from this team and each year they underachieve. Although *sigh* if I must I will give them credit for beating the top ranked Spaniards, 2-0. Howard played very well between the sticks, but his defense let him down. He made some great saves, yet was on the side of luck a few times as well. The US defense is not as solid as what Howard has in front of him in Everton. Props to Howard for a job well done.

So why is US Soccer not competitive? Let’s ask Bob Bradley. After their monumental win against Spain he was quoted as saying, that the victory was in part of the success to his players’ development in Major League Soccer. What sort of bullshit is that? The MLS is the laughing stock of world football. Sorry, the league is at best mediocre and probably rivals some the first and second divisions of other countries.

The problem in the Brazil match was the lack of experienced bench players and the right strategic moves by Bradley to secure a victory for the US. At the 75th minute Bradley brought on Bornstein and Kljestan, a defender and midfielder in order to show up a very tired lineup. Brazil was consistently in control and dominating play. Many of the US players, especially in the defensive third were caught ball watching or out of position, as the outside players for Brazil and time and opportunities in which to capitalize.

Once the game went level, it was a given the US would not be able to muster a win. Brazil was too strong, to experienced to let this potential upset bite them in the ass. They proved once again why they are one of the BEST nations when it comes to international football. Maybe when the US realized the game is called FOOTBALL and not SOCCER they will have a better understanding why they will never win major games. As for 2010, don’t expect much of a showing. Their bench players are not strong enough and the starting eleven, while somewhat experienced don’t all play at the same competitive levels for their club team, which in turns hurts when they come together as a national team. Sorry US, stick with a game you are good at, like American football, baseball or basketball.

Insane Amounts of Cash

One reason I stopped watching MLB and to some degree the NFL was the ungodly amount of money thrown at players these days. Especially rookies who have NO experience at this level. One just has to look at the deals signed by Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000 (2008-2017), Derek Jeter, $189,000,000 (2001-2010) and Mark Teixeira, $180,000,000 (2009-2016). The list continues, you can see it at Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the figures are astounding!

The NFL is no better. Oddly enough the former convict, Michael Vick signed what is still the largest contract at $130,000,000 (2005-2014). Other players with big contracts include, Carson Palmer, $119,750,000 (2006-2014) and Donovan McNabb, $115,000,000 (2002-2013). Much of this money includes a signing bonus, since there is not a lot of guaranteed money in these contracts is struck down by a career ending injury.

The NBA is just as guilty, but since I don’t care for the sport I see no reason to even mention their outrageous figures. In some respect it’s a worse offender than the NFL. This brings me to my point.

The beautiful game. Football as it is known world wide, only in the US is is termed soccer, where contracts in the MLS pale in comparison to their overseas counterparts, unless your name is David Beckham and you sign with the LA Galaxy to put “butts in the seats” and to sell merchandise. His contract was 5 years, $250,000,000. Considering the MLS as lost approximately $350,000,000 since its inception this was not a unexpected signing.

In the past week La Liga has seen record breaking signings of Kaka ($92 million) from AC Milan and just today Cristiano Ronaldo signed for $131 million from Manchester United. The size of these contracts are far above anything seen previously. Real Madrid has just added two of the world’s best players (both former Players of the Year) to their club and they might not be finished. They are still chasing Valencia’s David Villa, which would also bring a large contract.

UEFA boss, Michael Platini is outraged at the “excessive” transfer fees, “are a serious challenge to the idea of fairplay and the concept of financial balance in our competitions.” Much like the NFL and the MLB, the big teams, with money to spend end up attracting top talent, while smaller clubs are left with very little and no chance at titles and trophies.

UEFA is working hard with clubs to set up a new set of rules as soon as is possible to clean up the system and give it a more solid, more transparent base,” Platini told AFP. Hopefully this does not mean a salary cap because football is a business. Big name players are small clubs will end up transferring in order to record those bigger contracts or because their club cannot afford their salary.

Beckham. You Schmuck!

Me! Me! Me! That sums up “Dave” pretty good. Obviously Man U had good reason to get rid of him, so off to Spain he goes. The Real Madrid was not a good one and “Becks” was all but washed up. Bye bye England National Team. Then the stupid Americans toss truckload of cash at him and he comes to the USA.

With Becks TRYING to play hardball, not wanting to return to the MLS (can’t blame him there, the league is terrible!) his only option is to stay on at an aging AC Milan. I am sure MLS and the Galaxy will come to terms of AC Milan (and Adidas) and Beckham will buy another home in Italy so his slutty wife can spend all that money is supposed earned playing American soccer.

But seriously he is in for himself, nothing else. While AC Milan and Serie A is much superior to the MLS, it’s no real surprise he wants to stay and play for a winner. Of course Milan will continue to play second fiddle to Inter, Juventus and possibly even AS Roma (okay, so I am dreaming there).

So while his experiment in the MLS has failed, much like other “stars” before him Beckham will continue to play out as an aging superstar for one more shot at what he considers glory. World Cup 2010. Although at this stage in qualifying, I don’t see England as a favorite to win, but who knows. I am sure Becks will do enough, regardless of continent and make the national squad for his last time before he announces his retirement at the end the World Cup 2010.

Beckham the Primadonna

LOL! It has only been the better part of three games in Serie A with Italian powerhouse, AC Milan and Beckham is already talking about his desire to stay in Italy. Wow, guess that comes as a real surprise *sarcasm*. This guy is a beauty, going where the money is. I compare him to record setting players in the NFL who are trying to hand on to the glory and stardom they once had. Beckham, while not the same player he was when at Man U has started all three games for the Rossoneri, but I for one am shocked he is in the starting eleven.

With names like Kaka, Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf, Emerson, Ambrosini and Flamini its obvious team management is playing to Beckham and his once famed skills. I will grant him this, he is still a good player, but not the same caliber as some of the aforementioned midfielders already playing full time with AC Milan.

Of course come March 9, the Los Angeles Galaxy will let Beckham walk from his contract, as he has never lived up to the reputation that preceded upon his arrival to Hollywood (or is that Carson?) His “little experiment” in the MLS (formerly known as the NASL) has failed, just like many other big name players before him; Giorgio Chinaglia, Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, to name a few.

So Beckham bow out to North America, take your big bucks and bitchy wife and move to Italy. There is only one reason you want to hang on to football…actually two. First to be noticed by Fabio Capello in order to be selected (God forbid, captain) England’s national team in World Cup 2010. Second the selfish bastard wants to break Bobby Moore’s record of 108 appearances for the national team. So go on being the “team player” you are. I hope Capello keeps you off the national team, you are no longer one of England’s best.

Becks Not Good Enough For Rossoneri

Someone please help me understand what the world’s most overpriced player is trying to prove? Yeah, I am speaking of “Becks”, David Beckham of the MLS’s L.A. Galaxy. He took a sale to America for an unprecedented $250 million over 5 years, which was allegedly the next move in his career, it was to help foster an young, struggle league with a big name player. Pele anyone?

Recent rumors have Beckham going on loan to AC Milan. WTF? I won’t be the only one to say it, but he could not crack the starting eleven on the Rossoneri . I agree with Sir Alex Ferguson’s take, “Going to the United States does not get you the kind of football he is used to. It is not the right level of football, therefore coming back into the mainstream of the game is not a surprise.”

It is debatable that he is still worthwhile being tapped for the national team in England. He has moved on in age and his skills have diminished, so the MLS was perfect for him, since it is a lower caliber of football. As for his chance at the national team for the 2010 World Cup…I think it would be great if Capello left him off the WC team. I can’t see him playing the Italian style of football that Milan does. He definitely won’t see the reception he did in the US if and when he makes the transfer to Italy.