Guess who’s back …. back again …. harvardfan94’s back … tell a friend.
Yes, it’s about that time, folks. Time for me to concoct an excuse as to why I haven’t posted a blog in forever. I’m going with hemorrhoids. Before we start, a brief note: my series chronicling Premier League Summer Transfers has been changed slightly. It will now simply be a wrap-up that will be posted around the same time that I post my Premier League Preview. So the five people who actually read my soccer articles have that to look forward to, although I’m pretty sure that at least three of them are robots. Anyway, let’s get started.
- The US beat Panama 1-0 in the Gold Cup final, courtesy of Brek Shea doing his best Rafael Van der Vaart impression and tapping in a ball that was already going in. In my mind, this tournament should serve as a sign that Mexico is no longer the dominant team in CONCACAF. The US is certainly deeper, and currently tops the hexagonal. The US is stronger in the midfield and in goal, potentially at the back as well. The emergence of Jozy Altidore also means that the US is closing the gap up top.
- The obvious success story from the World Cup is Landon Donovan, who earned himself a place in the first team with a stunning performance. Joe Corona, Clarence Goodson, and Brek Shea should also earn looks. Stuart Holden is still not quite the same player, but he is getting there. Holden, Mix Diskerud, and Alejandro Bedoya may be able to make a push for a spot on the bench come 2014. The news that Holden tore his ACL is devastating, and it may prevent Holden from making the World Cup roster. Hopefully he can recover in time.
- Despite his early success, Chris Wondolowski faded as the tournament wore on. The fact of the matter is that he is not a good enough striker to start, or even be a substitute, for the US. He simply lacks the talent to succeed against anyone other than the minnows of CONCACAF.
- Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Gold Cup was the reminder of how bad of a state refereeing is right now in FIFA. Like in many other sports leagues, FIFA refuses to publicly criticize refs, even when it is clearly deserved. Honduras’ dangerous play towards the end of the semifinal against the US was outrageous, as was the decision to eject and then suspend Jurgen Klinsmann. In the final, the referee had no control over the game, letting some clear fouls (and a handball) go, while calling a huge number of phantom fouls. The whole ridiculous enterprise culminated in Brek Shea receiving a yellow card for being elbowed in the face by a Panamanian defender. FIFA needs to step up and do something about referees, before we have more disasters like the 2010 World Cup.
- Another FIFA problem: assigning which nation hosts the World Cup. It now appears that Brazil will not be ready for the 2014 edition of soccer’s biggest tournament due to a lack of infrastructure. The selection of Qatar to host in 2022 also presents many problems, one of which is infrastructure. The heat will be unbearable, and the Qatari soccer team is really not very good (it is currently ranked 112, and has never been in the top 50). And I haven’t even mentioned the bribery allegations that surrounded the selection.
- In rather somber news, Ecuadorian striker Christian Benitez died suddenly at the age of 27. The cause of death appears to be related to a heart issue.
- Real Madrid has offered 100 million metric dollars (also known as Euros) for Tottenham “chicken standing on a soccer ball” Hotspur’s star player Gareth Bale. To be honest, this deal doesn’t make a great deal of sense for either side. Real Madrid’s best player (Christiano Ronaldo) plays the same position as Bale, and, while Bale can move into the middle, he won’t be quite as effective. Tottenham loses an irreplaceable player, and suddenly loses the chance to contend for a spot in the Champion’s League. Although the money is nice, not many top class players really want to come to Tottenham, and almost none will once that shot at a top four finish is gone. Spurs appear to be on the brink of adding Roberto Soldado, which would give the team the striker they so desperately needs. With Soldado, Spurs could certainly finish in the top four, and perhaps challenge for a title.
- And, just for good measure, here’s a picture of everyone’s favorite monster/soccer player, Lex Immers:
That’s all for now. Expect a post on baseball in the days ahead.