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.

Good News Azzurri Faithful

I will go on record now to say that Roma Captain and Serie A superstar, Francesco Totti will be the starting striker for Italia when World Cup 2010 opens in South Africa. Speculation on Totti was ended today when he signed a new 5 year extension with AS Roma. Sure, he was on again, off again the past year as Roma got off to a terrible start and while they recovered their early season setbacks cost them a chance for a top three finish.

Asked about a possible international return if he was contacted by Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi, he said: “We’d evaluate that together. Let’s see how I am during the year. The physical problems have passed, my knee is OK and the aim is to play as much as possible.” *

With AS Roma not in the UEFA Champions League this year, it will free up Totti from another league commitment. It will also give him some more time to rehab the knee into top playing shape. This is a good thing, as Bayern star, Luca Toni, will find himself playing behind Totti. It is a very different Italia when Totti is up front than when Toni is. Totti is 32 years old and has many years behind him. His legs are not what they used to be and he does fit that aging Azzurri profile.

Regardless of when the call up happens, it will come and Totti will be blessed with the Captain’s armband. Another Azzurri World Cup victory? Not sure I will go on record with that yet. I think they have a lot of work ahead of them and many good nations out there (Spain, France, England, Brasil) looking to take home some fancy hardware.

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.

Fluke: Coming and Going

Consider me like Italy, during their recent lack of performance in the Confederation Cup they really did not want to be in South Africa playing some pre-qualifying games with the likes of Egypt, Brazil and the USA. With that said, I think their 3-0 loss at the feet of Brazil drilled home the fact Lippi will need to make some adjustments as we are less than a year away from the start of World Cup 2010.

Take USA’s shocking victory over Spain as a fluke. Sorry Bob Bradley, I disagree with your contention that the victory was in part of the success to his players’ development in Major League Soccer. That laughable to say the least. Of the 54 players in the team pool, 26 make their living in the MLS. Out of those 26 individuals, only 4 players were involved in the upset victory over Spain, two of which were late (84+ minute) substitutions.

So I guess we will give credit to Bob’s band of merry men in the Confederation Cup. I still think the USA will go out in the group stage, regardless of what other nations they are seeded with. Sorry USA, you are not as good as this win over Spain. But enjoy the moment in the spotlight.

As for Italy I do concede they are one of the aging teams and their play was rather sloppy and down right ugly at times. Luca Toni (32) up front just scares me. He just is not the play maker a Francesco Totti is, nor does he have the charisma. Vincenzo Iaquinta (29) is not a outside player, he needs to be upfront, in the middle. Yet I would love to see more of Giuseppe Rossi, Fabio Quagliarella or journeyman, Alberto Gilardino. The striker position is a HUGE question mark at this time for the Azzurri.

Let us wait and see what the coming months bring us in terms of qualification. Italy, while aging are the defending World Champions (2006) and will be a force to be reckoned with in South Africa. I don’t believe they will win again, but will advance out of the group stage. As for the USA, well let them ride high on the hype secured in the qualification matches, but South Africa will be another eye opening experience.

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.

The 6th Thought: Mourinho Gets It

“What do I think about football in  America? It takes more than an important player to make a competition  equally important. They need people who are not thinking of coming here  to take money and then leaving, but people who want to work in this  country to insert themselves into American football.”

Jose Mourinho of Inter when asked about Beckham’s move to the MLS. Full story here.

What Does it Say?

I am sure the sportswriters all across the globe all have similar topics regarding the state of Italian football. What does it say, when three of the top Italian teams, in Inter, Juve and Roma all go down in defeat over the course of two days in UEFA Champions League play? Does this mean English football is that much superior to the game the Italians play?

I watch plenty of footie from the UK and Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal are much like their Italian counterparts in terms of quality of football on the pitch and their positions in the table every year. Of the three Italy v England matches, two of them were scoreless draws in the first leg. Only Arsenal managed a lone gone, courtesy of a penalty kick, after dominating Roma for much of the match. Arguments can be made for the other matches, as Mourinho defends his team’s play against the Reds, while Juve came close numerous times versus Chelsea, but came up short in the end.

Of the three Italian team, Inter’s exit is probably the most shocking, come up short in a 2-0 loss to SAF and the Red Devils. Seems only fitting though, that in his years at Chelsea he was at the top of his game, only to lose another match to Man U. This was the real title that Jose was after, not the scudetto in Serie A. Mourinho last won the CL in 2004 with Porto and exited in the semifinals twice while at Chelsea, so while his track record is proven, his team just did not have enough to finish off SAF’s Red Devils.

The Roma match was a roller coaster of emotions, being down 1-0 AGG heading back to the Olimpico for the second leg. After a dominating performance by the Gunners, it was talked about pregame to be much of the same. Yet Roma is always resilient and a tougher team to play in Rome and they proved it yesterday. It only took 9 minutes when Juan found the back the net, after a pass came through the box and was slotted past Almunia.

This was a big goal goal for Roma and their fans, as it allowed them to draw even on aggregate goals. Roma proved to be the stronger side much of the match and produce quality chances in front of Almunia, but could never finish. As with most matches, there was a controversial no-call by the Spanish referee on Matto, as he appeared to have his jersey pulled from behind by Clichy, causing him to go to the ground. Yet nothing was rewarded and game play continues.

Baptista had a horrible showing much of the match. He came on late in first period as Juan exited due to injury and seemed to be a step behind and a pass off. He did have a chance to seal a victory for Roma on a beautiful cross which was flicked on my Totti, but Baptista tried for the one-timer and it was for not.

Arsenal showed some prowess late in the second half and much of two, 15 minute overtime periods, but the score remained 1-1 as the match went to spot kicks. Dona was riding high after he saved the first attempt, as Roma converted. Unfortunately, Roma’s season would come crashing down after 7 penalty kicks when Max Tonetto stepped up and put the ball over the crossbar. While I don’t lay the blame on him, I do put some of the responsibility on the shoulders of Mirko Vucinic, who half assed an attempt right at Almunia, evening up the PKs after the second round.

So where does that leave Italy football? Sure, Inter will go on with win their third scudetto in Serie A, while Juve and Roma will both finish in the top five and be back in the Champions League next year. What does this say about the World Cup, upcoming in 2010? I don’t believe England has a better squad than Italy and now with many players imported to play in countries like England and Italy it’s more difficult to judge the on field talent when its brought together. The 2008 Italy squad was unique, in that all the players played in country. Not the case any longer. I do think Italian football will need to look within, in order to have better showing next year. Here is to Man U winning the Champions League, as well as the Premiership, the FA and the League Cup, which they have already completed.

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.