Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bob Bradley to resign as head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann to replace him

After watching the United States get destroyed by Brazil at the New Meadowlands Stadium, all I can say is it was torture for me to watch the full 90 minutes of the game. Seeing Findley come on the pitch gave me nightmares from the 2010 World Cup.  The only positive out of that game was probably the right post (that prevented about 10 goals for Brazil) and Brad Guzan (who somehow, along with the woodwork kept a clean sheet in the second half). I guess this means we have depth at GK (which has always been a positive for the U.S.) but we need a new coaching staff as this game proves that all the players of 2010 won't work in 2014. Besides, just watching Brazil's youth from this game, does any country have a chance to win it in four years IN Brazil? Let's just gave them the 6th golden star now unless Uruguay shocks the World again (see 1950 World Cup).

I do have some good news which I can confidently report. Sources from the BigSoccer forum and World Soccer Reader have reported that Coach Bob Bradley told his players at the end of the game vs Brazil, he is on his way out the door, and that was the last game he would manage for the Stars and Stripes. I do want to say that Bob Bradley did take US Soccer to places it has never gone before, (finals in the Confederations Cup anyone?) however, he sometimes got stuck with lineups that made even the casual fan go insane, (Robbie Findley, Ricardo Clark? when we practically all begged to see Gomez and Buddle get a shot considering the streaks they were on.) The USA-Brazil game proved that Bradley took the team as far as he could go, and if the United States did the same with Bradley as they did with Arena (another World Cup) it would end disastrous for the yanks in 2014 just like it was in 2006.

The other news from Big Soccer is that Jurgen Klinsmann will replace Bob Bradley. While it is not official yet, they are still "in the talks" and it should be announced he will be the coach within the next few weeks. This is a positive move for US Soccer. While he is not the perfect pick (my dream pick would be David Moyes or Jose Mourinho) we all have to be realistic in that US soccer can't afford a "dream manager" besides, how's Capello working out for England? While the USSF wants an "American Coach" (no nation has won the World Cup with a foreign coach), the manager has lived in the United States for over 12 years, fluent in English, knows soccer here, and he lead Germany to third place in 2006, which his then assistant coach, Joachim Low, did the same as head coach in 2010. I think the United States needs a European Coach for the next cycle. We need the European style of play (just watch German passing), with the never give up, never dive, American attitude.

Do I think Klinsmann wins us the World Cup? Realistically no, (until I'm back on the roller coaster everyone was on watching them play in South Africa) but I expect him to build the team into a Top 10 soccer country, and a superpower for the future. Right now, we are about 16th place in the World, which the 2010 World Cup proved that.

Just watch this segment on what Klinsmann thinks is wrong with US Soccer. He is exactly right:

Bob Bradley showed the World we can compete with the best. Now we need a manager who can show the World we can beat the best every time were on the pitch. He can build us into a World Soccer Powerhouse, which will allow us to possibly win the 2022 World Cup, if we are the host nation.

Jurgen Klinsmann, the next US Soccer Head Coach, hopefully taking the yanks to Brazil in 2014 and making the United States a better soccer nation.

Christian N.

Christian is a Philadelphia Native, and is a political & sports columnist for several Newspapers across North America. He is also a season ticket holder of the Philadelphia Union and can be followed on Twitter along with his Website.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Final Reflections on the World Cup 2010

This World Cup will be remembered for many things, as there were a lot of firsts in it. This was the First World Cup hosted in Africa, it's the First time a European Team won outside of Europe, it's the First time a team losing it's First game wins the trophy, and it's the First time Spain has won it all and they truly deserved it.

Having said that, that was one ugly final game. Both teams weren't trying to win, they were trying to hurt the opponent, and they were doing their best Cristiano Ronaldo diving impersonations on the field. I wanted a good match, a we certainly didn't get that which I am disappointed, but, at the end of the day, at least the team that played better, won. 

The best thing on the pitch, was by far British Police Officer and the Referee of the Match, Howard Webb. He was also far from perfect too. My opinion as a neutral, was he did the best he could and I feel bad for him. He probably gave more cards in this game than traffic citations in his career as a cop. More than double of cards were handed out in this match than the previous World Cup Final record. The sad part is each was card was definitely deserved, in fact he should have given more cards. You can tell he didn't want to send anyone off early to try to make this a fair match. He tried to keep the players under control, but, the players wouldn't listen so he finally had to send off Dutch defender, Johnny Heitinga. Nigel De Jong should have been sent off too for the karate kick to the Spanish player Xabi Alonso, but was only given a yellow card early in the first half. At least FIFA gave this game to the best referee in the World, because if it was any other ref from this World Cup, you probably would have had players seriously injured and a bloody final that would determine the Mixed Martial Arts Champions for the next four years.

What I also learned is that I should have trusted Paul the Octopus in my prediction. The only two things that went undefeated in this World Cup was New Zealand (0-0-3, placing third in their group, ahead of previous champions Italy, but failing to advance) and Paul the Octopus (8-0-0), not even Spain can match his record.

Paul has announced, after going flawless in this World Cup, that he has retired from International Competition and will return to his aquatic life in Germany with a World Cup Trophy in his tank.

I can also report from sources I have in Germany (who goes by the name of Joe), that Paul actually pulled a mussel which won't allow him to guess in future games. We will all miss his talents in the future and it's a shame we won't be able to see him play in the next cycle, but I can't blame him for going out in style.

Speaking of the next cycle, check back often for more World Cup coverage, because the journey to Brazil in 2014 begins tomorrow.

Christian N.



Friday, July 9, 2010

A Final for the Books

Once again, I'm starting my post with an apology. I've been a counselor at a sleepaway summer camp with limited connection to technology during this whole month or so, and most would notice that the blog has been suffering. I was able to watch the U.S. fall to Ghana(with a stroke of misfortune, I may add), and highlights for every other game, and I plan on watching every game when I get home. The good news for me is that I will be able to watch the Final tomorrow, and I assure you, it will be a Final for the history books.
Coming into the tournament, I knew that the Netherlands had a definite chance of maybe sneaking into the semifinals, maybe even the finals. Okay, I actually predicted them to win in the only bracket that I filled out (), but who's counting?(I am!)I knew that the Netherlands would come in with the attacking mindset, and attack they did, scoring at least 2 goals in every game except against the Japanese. Now critics would be quick to note that the teams they have played so far aren't exactly known for their defending. In my opinion, Brazil was the best defensive team they played and they still dropped 2 goals on the world's theoretically best team and confused them all game long. With an all-star cast featuring Van Persie, Van Bommel, Robben, Kuyt, Huntelaar, Sneijder, etc., the Dutch will try to control Spain through the midfield and feed the ball to its strikers using quick passing to throw the Spanish off guard like they did to Brazil. The only place I can see a problem arising for the Netherlands is in the back. Granted, they have allowed a total of 3 goals in 5 games, but goalie Sander Boschker is a replacement for highly acclaimed Edwin Van der Sar, and he may break down under such high pressure. If the Spanish can break the Dutch defense early, this game may be over quickly. But if the Netherlands can continue what they have been doing, which has led to a pretty impressive 25 game win streak, the Netherlands will win.
Speaking of the Spanish, it would be hard to say that the Spanish are going to lose this game. Every aspect of their game is impeccable, and as Miroslav Klose put it, "They have been playing together for several years, they are very cohesive, their moves come automatically,". The Spanish reflect the pace and fluidity of La Liga in their national team, and it shows. The world's #2 has been tearing through the World Cup, taking out Germany in the semi-finals. That's the same German team who dropped 4 goals on both England and Argentina. Spain not only managed to contain Germany's nasty attack, but they outclassed them through the midfield and generally made Germany look silly all game long. That's hard to do, and if anything, it shows just how good Spain is. I could go through the list of all of Spain's amazing players, Puyol, Villa, Xavi to name a few. Or, I could tell you that Fernando Torres, widely considered to be one of the best players in the EPL, didn't start for them against Germany. That's how you know that a team has class. Both teams are going to look to control the game through the midfield, only one of them will. It may come down to a lucky goal, or one team may dominate the other. It may come down to penalty kicks(I hope not), it may be a beauty in extra time that puts the game away. However, any way that the game ends, it should be a majestic thriller, every Final is a game for the ages, let's hope for excitement that doesn't involve making soccer look like MMA(headbutts, anyone?). Anyways, it will be a night of firsts, and one of those will be the first World Cup victory for either Spain or Netherlands. I'm defying the Octopus:
Netherlands 2- Spain 1(OT)

Paul the Octopus vs Mani the Parakeet: Spain vs Netherlands

On Wednesday, I wrote an article talking about how Paul the Octopus has been the best story in this World Cup, and that he should be allowed to pick the World Cup Finals. Well, the oracle has spoken, and predicted Spain will defeat the Dutch for the championship, and that the Germans will defeat Uruguay for third place.

Out of nowhere, a new oracle arrives to the scene, Mani the Parakeet. The owner of Mani, claims that Mani has predicted every quarterfinals game correctly, and Spain over Germany in the Semi-finals, but, predicted Netherlands-Uruguay game incorrectly. So Mani is not perfect in this World Cup.

I'm not sure who to trust here. Paul has predicted every German game correctly so far (and there is evidence of it) but has not been tested on game not having the Germans play in it. Mani, has no evidence of predicting the quarterfinals games, but give the parakeet the benefit of the doubt. So this means the bird can predict games excluding his favorite team.

If I had to say which one of these "oracles" to trust, I would say Paul the Octopus, hands down, but I wish he was tested outside of a German World Cup game. I'm sure Mike, the other contributer to this blog, and soccer "expert" could go into vast detail about the Spanish Golden Team of All Stars that could only be compared to the USA Basketball team, taking on a solid Dutch side labeled as a Dark Horse this entire World Cup, a good title to always have going into the Final.

On Sunday, it's sure to be a battle of two European Powerhouses with one finally being able to claim a golden trophy of their own and have a golden star above their logo on their jerseys for the rest of time. It will also be a battle of Oracles, an octopus vs a parakeet to see which one can guess the final game correctly, and possibly become the story of this World Cup as Zidane's headbutt was in 2006.

My prediction: I say Paul but definitely guesses the last German game correctly, and Deutschland will finish in 3rd place. For the Winner, of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, I say.....

win it all. Mani and Paul, will have guessed one game wrong in this World Cup. I hope Paul goes undefeated, but that is my prediction, because Paul only guessed German games before, his luck will run out in Spain vs Netherlands. Now Mike can give real advice on who will win this World Cup based on talent, and style on both teams.

Christian N.

Christian is a Philadelphia Native, and is a political & sports columnist for several Newspapers across North America. He is also a season ticket holder of the Philadelphia Union and can be followed on Twitter along with his Website.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paul The Octopus is The Best Story of this World Cup

This World Cup will be remembered for many things. The First World Cup in Africa, the first time the host nation failing to advance out of their group, the first European team winning the World Cup outside of Europe, possibly the first time (Spain) a team winning the World Cup after losing their first game in the group stage, and finally two teams, who have never won the World Cup, (Netherlands, Spain) one can claim they finally made it all the way, and both are powerhouses of Soccer. The Dutch have been dubbed "the best team to never win it all" and they hope that label can go to the coffin on June 12.

There is of course, the controversy as well, such as people dying trying to get to the games, crime way up, transit not being able to meet the demands of the people at these games, corruption, and oh, and how could we forget the worst refereeing in human history in one month's time from USA-Slovenia, USA-Algeria, England-Germany and the list goes on.

The amazing, true story in this World Cup is, Paul the Octopus. This "German Squid" has predicted every game correctly and is 6-0. What they would do (as seen in the picture) is place a treat in two boxes (with the country's flag on the box) and whichever treat he grabbed first would turn out to be the winner of the game. 

He was laughed at when he picked Serbia over Germany after the Germans crushed Australia 4-0, but Paul got the last laugh. When he picked Spain over Germany, Germans held their breath, but this "oracle" was right again, and is now becoming popular all over the World. He hasn't been tested with a soccer game that did not have Germany in it, but let him try to predict the World Cup final, because it seems that you cannot change the "fate" Paul places on the losing team and I think many betting people want to take Paul's "advice" before they go to Vegas.  

Christian N.

Christian is a Philadelphia Native, and is a political & sports columnist for several Newspapers across North America. He is also a season ticket holder of the Philadelphia Union and can be followed on Twitter along with his Website.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Game of the Day!: Day 1: South Africa vs. Mexico

Once again, sorry I haven't posted in a while, high school has kept me more than busy, but now I'm here, and the World Cup has started, so I'm happy. After watching the first game, it's safe to say that South Africa is playing much better than their rank would indicate they are. First of all, they played solid defense against an explosive Mexican team who have many strikers that can score at will. When Mexico scored, it wasn't so much a Mexican goal as it was a blown play by the Bafana Bafana defense, if the last defender would've held the line and pushed up, the three Mexican attackers would have been easily offside, and the South African's may have had a stunning 1-0 win over the 17th ranked Mexicans. Unfortunately for South Africa, that last defender did not push up, and Rafa Marquez had a wide open shot from 6 yards out that no international player should miss.

Also, the South African attack was running on all cylinders. Mexico dominated the play for most of the first half, however, the momentum began to swing around the 40' minute, when South Africa had a succession of corner kicks, and the Mexicans were rocking on their heels, although just minutes earlier, the Bafana Bafana had been in serious danger a few times. South Africa then proceeded to have the better of the play for basically the rest of the game. While Mexico kept trying to push the ball through the middle with failed through ball after through ball, South Africa was controlling Mexico's defense with sweet 1-2 passing and sneaky runs that cut through Mexico's defense. South Africa was rewarded when they broke Mexico's defense again, and the Mexican keeper could only stare in horror as the attacker's shot flew off the outside of the post and out of play. Incredibly, Mexico was lucky to have scrapped a point out of this great start for the tournament and the host nation, when almost everyone had the Mexicans as the overwhelming favorites to take 3 points from the match. Mexico may be in danger yet, and South Africa is looking to keep performing as they did in their opener, because if they do the will advance out of their group.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Let's Analyze Groups!: Group A

Hello all, sorry I haven't posted in a month or so, but life can be busy, you know? So on to Group A, a group that I'll label as The Misfits. Here we have the host nation, a subdued Uruguay, a France team who, after reaching the final of the 2006 World Cup, arguably shouldn't have even qualified for this year's tournament, and... Mexico. Let's start with the host nation, South Africa.

Ranked at a less than appeasing 90 by FIFA, South Africa qualified for this year's World Cup by hosting the tournament. The recent FIFA Confederations Cup should be the most recent measure of their form, right? Well, if it does, the team nicknamed the Bafana Bafana are in good shape to at least make it out of the group stage. They advanced out of their group by beating measly Iraq and New Zealand and a loss to the current Kings of Soccer, Spain. However, the semifinal match showed at least South Africa's defensive competence, only conceding to powerhouse Brazil late on a corner. Also, in the 3rd place match, they led Spain at one point before eventually losing to the Spainards. If this performance is any semblance to how S.A. will play in the World Cup, they look to be in solid shape. I predict that they will surprise Mexico and take the #2 spot in Group A, behind France, despite only having won one game total in previous World Cups. Besides, no host nation has ever failed to move past the group stage.

Speaking of France, remember November 18th, last year? Well, I'll refresh your memory. That was the day on which France and Ireland were playing the 2nd leg of a playoff to get into the Cup. Oh, you're starting to remember? Well, then you probably remember Theirry Henry handling the ball inside the box off of a free kick, then crossing the ball to William Gallas who easily headed it into the twine. If the ball hadn't gone into the net, the playoff would've been tied at 1-1, both away goals, and would've gone to overtime, but instead, France advanced over Ireland and caused international uproar not only from soccer commentators, but also from networks like ESPN who could probably care less about soccer and just common people who don't really follow soccer. Replays of the match were called, Henry was blasted, but nothing was changed, and rightfully so, replaying the game or taking away the goal would go directly against the spontaneity that makes soccer the brilliant sport that it is.
Anyways, enough rambling about that incident, let's look at the actual team. France has obviously been a soccer powerhouse these past few years, being led by huge names such as Patrice Evra, Florent Malouda, and their captain... erm... Theirry Henry! In 2006, France reached the finals of the World Cup, where they faced Italy, and lost in Penalties, it was a compelling game that included the infamous "Zidane headbutt". They didn't qualify for the most recent Confederations Cup, and they barely qualified for the Cup this year, yet they're ranked 10 by FIFA, although I do agree with this, since they are a powerhouse. To add, France is one of the few teams with a World Cup victory, (Uruguay, also in Group A, being another) claiming one in 1998, when they defeated Brazil 3-0 in the final. I believe that the qualifying scare will unite the French and vault them to the top of Group A. That, and the fact that any 11 players that they send out to the pitch are the highest of class.

Now, soccer fans, if I asked you who won the first inaugural World Cup, unless you knew the answer off of the top of your head, you'd most likely tell me a country that has been at the top of the soccer ladder throughout its existence, maybe someone like Brazil, or Argentina, maybe England, who popularized the game. I doubt that you'd ever guess the country with the capital of Montevideo, Uruguay, that is. That's right, the inaugural World Cup(the first recognized by FIFA, any way) was held in none other than Uruguay, where the host nation beat the Argentines 4-2 in the Finals. Uruguay also won the Cup in 1950, winning one of the most famous soccer matches ever against host Brazil, 2-1. Enough said about Uruguay's past though, let's talk about their future. Interestingly enough, their FIFA ranking at the moment is 18, although they only qualified for South Africa through a play-off against Costa Rica (2-1 agg.). It's hard to tell how good their form has been recently, other than their Copa America semi-final appearance in 2007. However, their near-miss on qualification(2 teams trailed them by a mere 1 point to get Uruguay's 5th place in the W.C. group qualifying stages), I don't see them making it very far in this tournament. I'll say 4th place and an early exit in the group stages.

Finally, on to Mexico, who in recent times, has been overshadowed in the international soccer community by their northern neighbors, the U.S. Speaking of the U.S. vs. Mexico, Mexico has bested the U.S. in their last two prominent matches, a 2-1 beating in W.C. qualifying and a 5-0 whooping in the finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, although we have to keep in mind that Mexico was really playing a U.S. C-team. In Mexico's last 4 World Cup appearances, they have made it out of the group stage to the round of 16 and lost there each year. Looking at Mexico's recent form, they didn't qualify for the Confederations Cup and placed 3rd in the 2007 Copa America. They are a strong team, ranked 1 better than Uruguay at 17, but they are also in a strong group, and I don't think they will be able to make it out. I'm predicting a 3rd place finish for the Mexicans and a snapping of their 4 tournament streak of getting to the Round of 16.

To recap, I'll give you how I think the group will play out:
1. France
2. South Africa
3. Mexico
4. Uruguay

Regardless of the results, this group is going to be one of the most intriguing of the tournament, with 3 teams ranked in FIFA's top 20, and the host nation, this group surely will not fail to disappoint.

*Photo sources*