ESPN: Not Good Coverage

Damn their pregame is just as bad as their post game. Thankfully Julie Foudy and Eric Wynalda are no longer with us as in studio guests. Although Alexi Lalas is not much better. But it’s the host for those shows who don’t know a damn thing about the sport, yet their try to sound like they know the game and have studied it, when that is not the case. They are promoted with scripts that try to make then sound knowledgeable. While I am not a real big fan of the Fox Soccer Channel, at least they provide a bit better insight, unfortunately games are not shown on FSC. Setanta Sports, now part of FSC would have been excellent, but again ESPN has the rights to the 2010 World Cup and we must go with their below average coverage. With that said, at least ESPN did hire some on air talent in Martin Tyler, Ian Darke, Derek Rae and Adrian Healey.

As for the matches themselves, the RSA v Mexico match was a bit more entertaining that the last 35 minutes of the Uruguay v France match I saw. France just looked terrible and maybe Mexico, who showed flashes of brilliance will advance, possibly with Uruguay who played the last 10 minutes or so down a man. RSA, much like France were terrible. A nice goal in the second half gave Bafana Bafana some life, as did the crowd in the stadium, but I think they will come back down to earth in the next match.

Mexico looked much better and controlled the flow of play for a majority of the time, but they could not finish and in my opinion got caught too high on defense at times, once which led to the South African goal. All teams still have a shot at advancing. After seeing France (and I”ll watch the rest of the game today) it looks as if Mexico and Uruguay could both advance.

2010 World Cup: Let’s Play

As I sit here at work composing this piece we are a mere 15 hours away from the first kickoff from Johannesburg featuring host nation, South Africa taking on Mexico. It has been 4 years in the making and now the waiting is over. The media can stop with hit pieces and predictions as all bets are off when the whistle blows.

I am still going over my bracket and will have it finalized today (courtesy of and I still have Brazil winning the cup for the 6th time, but I do believe there are a few (very few) contenders who can playing the kind of football necessary to stop Brazil.

Those other teams are Spain and Argentina, even with that madman, Maradona. Spain is a complete team, the starting XI are all world-class players. Memo to the USA, wanna know when you have a good team, look at Spain. Hell look at Spain’s bench! Sorry, got sidetracked, did not want to turn this into another anti-USA piece. Argentina, while a bit suspect on defense, maybe because of the formation have the best firepower up front. But as the saying goes, “defense wins championships” but if the big guns get going it might not be possible to stop guys like Messi, Tevez, Higuaín, Agüero and Milito.

As much as I follow Serie A and the Azzurri, I have serious doubts they can defend the World Cup. The last team to repeat, Brazil in 1958 and 1962. If history plays a role, then Brazil comes out on top as they have won every 8 years going back to 1994, nearly as impressive as their run from 1958-1970. Brazil is a complete team on the pitch. They control the midfield and dictate the match. They are quick on the counterattack and and can build even quicker from the back. They are coached by a legend, Dunga who participated from 1982-1998.

I tend to believe that all the hype, speculation and “fluke” victories in previous cups and matches leading up to the World Cup Final don’t mean a thing. For example, France’s version of the “Hand of God” as performed by Thierry Henry or the US upsetting Spain, 2-0 last June in the Confederations Cup. Or the controversy surrounding Uruguay and Costa Rica and Algeria and Egypt. These 32 teams did whatever it took to make the trip, unfortunately the reality is 26 of those teams have no chance at raising the Jules Rimet Trophy.

Of the other teams I did not add, I feel Germany, Holland and the 2006 champions, Italy. Germany will play a sound game, as they usually do, having success in their ground, drawing an easy second round match, but possibly running into the freight train, if they get into the quarterfinals. Holland much like Germany have an injury in Arjen Robben to deal with, but a healthy Van Persie who could pick up the slack. In my bracket, Holland wins the group, and makes it to the quarterfinals only to be KO’ed by Brazil.

Finally the reigning world champions, the Azzurri. This is not the same team that won 4 years ago, while some of the names are the same, it is still a team looking for some leadership and direction. Put nothing in to their (lack of) performance up to this point. As defending champions, you feel a certain aura surrounding them or any other champion. Hopefully that aura is not broken early on. In a very favorable group they could draw the powerhouse that is Spain in the quarterfinals. Still I feel Lippi has one more shot at glory and that would be holding on to the trophy for four more years.

Since I seem to catch a fair bit of flak as being “un-American” or “hater” when it comes to comments about the US National Team, here is my reasoning. First the “professional” league in the US, the MLS does not field the same caliber of player as many of the European leagues. Many of the national team players play abroad, or shall I say apply their trade, as many don’t see regular playing time or attempting to help their club from being relegated to lower division football.

As much as I don’t like to admit it, there are a handful of players who could play and possibly star on some of the big name clubs though out Europe. Tim Howard, while not a top 10 goalkeeper in my book is proven and a solid shot stopper. Clint Dempsey plays for Fulham, who is a middle of the table EPL club and his skills could see him coming off the bench for larger clubs. Finally, the man with the chip on his shoulder, Landon Donovan. Why he continues to play in the MLS is beyond me. You cannot dispute his skills and he proved he could play in the EPL while on loan to Everton. But why the hell go back to the Galaxy and the MLS? You want to be taken as a serious footballer, leave the MLS. At 28 years old, he still has a few good years remaining, but the MLS is were aged stars come to play, so I guess it fits him.

All in all it will be a a great 30 days of football to watch. Looking forward to catching every game as I did in 2006. 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.

World Cup 2010 is Coming!

As I write this we are 8 days away from the start of the 2010 World Cup in south Africa, the first time that continent has hosted this spectacle! Much like the 2006 World Cup in Germany, I will pledge my allegiance to the Azzurri (Italy) in hopes of retaining the World Cup for another 4 years. Repeats are rare, the last nation to do it was Brazil in 1962, winning 4 years prior. I give the USA no hope in making past the group stage. I have gone as far to say the USA won’t score a goal in South Africa. Personally, I like my odds since the USA only scored one goal in the 2006 World Cup, their second goal came courtesy of an O.G. by Italy. But I won’t get sidetracked on a very below average national team.

There is much excitement in South Africa as the last of the international friendlies are being staged. Africa, prior to Michael Essien being ruled out with a knee injury for Ghana have some good teams that could compete including Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon and the aforementioned Ghana. I don’t believe any of these teams will win, but could cause some excitement into the later stages of the completion. If the team infighting is kept to a minimum, Côte d’Ivoire could be the surprise African nation to advance the furthest.

As for Europe, Germany much ALWAYS be considered a favorite appearing 7 times in the final match, winning in 1954, 1974 and 1990. “Die DFB-Elf” are lead by Michael Ballack. Much like ’06 I seem going deep into the knock-outs round and making another appearance in the semi-finals. They are very inexperienced in goal, a combined 8 games of experience on the international stage, could be difficult, but the German defense is strong anchored by Lahm and Friedrich.

England should make it out of the group stage, but I am not sold on “The Three Lions” advance past the round of 16 because of their goalkeeping situation. David James is good, but at times rather a risky play between the pipes, but he does have the most international experience of the bunch. The downside on James, he is 39 years old. Robert Green and Joe Hart are good, but will they see the pitch? Green might be the best of the bunch, but his inexperience on the international level could come into play.

Italy I am biased towards Italy, starting with Buffon in goal, arguably the world’s best keeper. Their defense is getting old with Zambrotta and Cannavaro. Unfortunately it doesn’t get much better in the midfield either, where age is a factor. If you ask me, Gattuso should not be on the national team. Pirlo is the play maker, but DeRossi is the star. Upon front we are without our talisman, Francesco Totti, which was a mistake if you ask me. Sure he is on on the other side of 30, but he is a leader and a playmaker up front, something the Azzurri don’t have right now. I would like to see the repeat, but realistically, they will fall in the quarterfinals.

Spain was considered the favorites after their Euro 2008 campaign. They have the strongest starting XI of any team, maybe with the exception of Brazil. From top to bottom they are pure experience. They have three of the world’s best goalkeepers in Casillas, Valdes and Reina. Puyol, Ramos and Marchena anchor a strong defense, while their midfield is very experienced. Iniesta, Alonso, Hernandez and Fabergas are all world class. Up front a duo of Torres and Villa make Spain a strong team and a strong contender. Hopefully Torres recovers in time for the start.

From South America it’s Argentina and Brazil. Both teams are loaded with talent, especially Argentina up front. Agüero, Tevez, Higuaín and Messi. Wow! But some of the decisions beg the question, what the hell is Maradona thinking? He left off Zanetti and Cambiasso. Why? Not to mention Juan Ramón Riquelme, who retired from the international scene after a dispute with Maradona. Still with what Argentina has, they have a good chance to make the final four.

Brazil, perennial favorites (again) should make the finals. This year they are “complete” team, leaving off some of the popular names, including Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ronaldo and up and coming star, Pato. Still the team has it all from leadership to talent to the skill to win the World Cup. They are 5 time champions and look to have a great chance to hoist the trophy.

Things are heating up as we draw closer to the opening kick off. The favorites can already be narrowed down to about 7 teams, which after the group stage can be trimmed to 3 or 4. While my heart says Italy, my experience watching football says it won’t be for the Azzurri. This squad lacks something on the field. I liked Germany making it to the finals, but Ballack could be out due to injury. So I feel Brazil and Spain cruise to the finals with Brazil, lead by legend, Dunga to hoist the Cup in J-burg when the tournament is over.

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.

WC 2010 Draw: Wynalda STFU!

It was a beautiful day for the beautiful game as the 32 teams who qualified for the 2010 World Cup were slotted in their group. South Africa is playing host to the World Cup and received the automatic berth into Group A. The first thing that needs to happen is for former US star, Eric Wynalda to STFU! Let’s also include Julie Foudy too. “This is the best draw we’ve ever had in any World Cup,” said former U.S. forward Eric Wynalda, now an analyst for the Fox Soccer Channel. “No disrespect to England, but this is an ideal group for us.”

I have never been a fan of the US soccer boys, one because they call it soccer and not football, but because they are a bunch of overrated, under achieving primadonnas. Sure they can lay claim to beating Spain in a match that meant nothing, but that victory was not a UEFA Cup or World Cup. US better not overlook Solvenia. Sure they did not qualify in 2006 and were 0-3 in group stage play in 2002. I will say the US has a better chance at advancing in 2010 than they did in 2006, but nothing is a sure thing.

Speaking of primadonnas we now must listen to Landon Donovan whine because there will be continue talk of Landon versus David (Beckham). Donovan shrugged his shoulders when the U.S. was picked to play England. “It never ends,” he said – apparent reference to his connection to the English star. Waaaa….Donovan, please retire. I guess that won’t happen since you ARE playing the MLS, where the old star from other countries come to star in. MLS is not professional football. So enjoy the group stage. It will be your last one.

As for those teams that play football, there appear to be some clear cut group winners. Starting with Group A, Mexico and France should be favorites. Too bad, France, who should not even be in the competition. Group B should see Argentina through, as for the other team, Greece or Nigeria should emerge. Group D features a powerful and potential favorite in Germany. Ghana played well in 2006 and could make it out of the group in 2010. Group E should see the Dutch and Cameroon to the knock out stage. Group F, Italy should be pleased they have an easy group in 2010. This group should also see Slovakia through as well. Group H features UEFA Cup Champions, Spain through to the knock out stage. As for the second team, I feel it’s a toss up. Let me say Honduras.

As for Group G, welcome to the “Group of Death.” What an interesting make up of this draw that features perennial favorites, Brazil, Korea DPR, Ivory Coast and Portugal. Much of the talk heading into this World Cup was the possibility of an African nation winning the cup. In previous cups, Nigeria and Cameroon have had good showings this year Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) had been tabbed as the best African nation, unfortunately they ended up in a very difficult group.

If I had to choose two teams out of Group G, Brazil and Portugal move on. Portugal could have some question marks though. In 2006 they finished 4th. During qualify they did not record a loss, so it will be interesting to see if Big Phil can work his magic. They do feature Christiano Ronaldo up front.

Brazil is a football powerhouse! Their squad is quality through the starting XI. Nice to see some AS Roma stars in on the squad, but much of the focus will be on Kaká in the midfield. It will be interest to watch the progress that Pato makes in the Serie A. He is a star of tomorrow, who’s stock continues to rise. Hopefully he gets a chance in 2010 to showcase his skills. Cracking the squad will be difficult, but we still have a long time before the kickoff in South Africa.

So the draw is done and the groups are set. Now let the speculation begin. Who comes out of the Group of Death? What team scores a surprise berth out of the group stage. Which ranked team gets knocked out? Many questions will be raised up until June 11. While I would like to pin Italy in the finals they won’t have an easy road for the repeat once out of the group stage. Spain has to be one of the favorites after their European Championship in 2008, but teams like Germany and Brazil are set to face a tough test.

Fair Play or Replay?

What in life is ever fair? Just ask Ireland about their recent loss in the 2010 World Cup Qualifier playoff match against France. While I am not a fan of the French, their coach they do have some class players on their current squad. Names such as Ribery, Anelka, Gallas and Henry come to mind. Many remember the unfortunate headbutt incident in the 2006 World Cup, which saw a blemish on the final career game of Zinedine Zidane. More recently the blatant hand ball offense by Henry in extra time that helped the ball find the foot of Gallas and eventually the back of the goal has spurred many comments from teams and officials about fair play.

The incident was very unfortunate for Ireland, who deserve a berth in the 2010 World Cup. The possibility of a replaying of the match has already been ruled about by Sepp Blatter and FIFA. More recently the FAI (governing body of football in Ireland) has asked FIFA to include them as team number 33 in a 32 team field for the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. If we start making exceptions to the rules, then one must also look at Costa Rica being the 34rd team in the draw with their controversial loss to Uruguay. Where does the madness stop?

While the event was very unfortunate for both countries, I don’t believe any amount of lobby for their cause will have either nation booking their trip to South Africa. It is interesting to note that FIFA is testing the use of officials positioned behind each goal in the UEFA Europa League. This would make the total of 6 officials now involved in the match. Is this the direction we want to go? Replay always seems to draw criticism. In America we see replay used the NFL and sometimes the footage ends up being “inconclusive” and always the play to stand. Other times there is evidence the official was incorrect in their initial call and the call on the field is overturned.

What would the use of replay in FIFA matches do to the game? Obvious answer, slow the game down and break the flow of the match. Not sure this is something a team wants when on the field. Of course being a team like Ireland or Costa Rica, replay would have corrected incorrect calls and saw both teams making the field of 32 for the World Cup. While I am against replay I do like the idea of adding behind the goal officials, much like we see in hockey. This would provide more eyes on the ball and pitch, as well as blatant or unnecessary fouls in that area of the pitch.

It will be interesting to watch and see the direction that FIFA takes. As I said, I don’t think either nation will end up heading to South Africa, both teams were on the short end of the stick. I guess we can only hope that France makes an early exit in the group stage of the World Cup.

Small Clubs with Heart

It’s rare you hear about a club in the US in any of the major sports, where a team resides from a small city. It just doesn’t happen. Small market clubs end up being a loosing proposition in many cases. Just take a look at your favorite sport and I am sure you can relate. San Diego Padres are considered a small market club and will never compete with the likes of a Yankees or Boston.

In football…sorry, soccer for those Americans who don’t follow European football it is decidedly different. There is the Barclay’s Premier League, which is top flight football in European. All teams in England strive year after year to be promoted. Beyond the Premiership is the Coca-Cola Championship League, which is home to teams relegated from the top league or teams who achieved success to be promoted. The other lower divisions are the League 1 and League 2 under the Coca-Cola Championship. No sport in the US is like this, where a small team is promoted, the only comparison could be a minor league affiliation in baseball, even that is a different.

Last season saw Burnley, town of 22,000 inhabitants be promoted to the Premiership. As with many lower division teams it is always a great thing for the team and the fans who are loyal to the end and support their club at all levels. Burnley opened home play last night against last season’s champion, Manchester United. Most gave Burnley no chance in hell of winning, let alone scoring a goal.

An interesting note hear while watching the game last night (on my DVR). The entire town of Burnley could fit inside Wimbley, which is home to Manchester United (holds 70,000+). Yet last night was not to be for Man U, who could just not click, while playing a weaker opponent. It was a great feeling watching and experience a lower division club, newly promoted after 33 years taking on the same team tame relegated them from the Prem 1-0, 33 years prior.

Burnley was able to gain the advantage last night on a great volley to the upper corner of the near post that would end up being the game winning goal (only goal of the game) for a 1-0 victory. Everything was going Burnley’s way from deflected balls, to penalty saves to the break. Man U could not muster much in terms of coordination and seemed to be frustrated by what Burnley did to them. Some claim Ronaldo could have pulled 1, possibly all 3 points for Man U. We can only speculate.

While Burnley might not win more than 4 or 5 matches this season, they have begun this Premiership in grand fashion, by taking down the perennial champions. This match was a great spectacle! One that will live long in the hearts and minds of Burnley. Even if they don’t win another match this season, I think we saw the sort of heart the club had, as well as some talented players on the pitch. If you get a chance, catch a replay of this match.

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, “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.