Saturday, November 9, 2013

Movember - American Soccer Edition

After a long hiatus, I've decided to return to the blog!
Life has been very busy lately and unfortunately, my blog had to take a back seat.

Movember has come around again, and this is a topic very close to my heart. Cancer has affected my family in various ways, and I greatly appreciate Cancer awareness, especially the special attention MLS pays to it. For the first time this year, I am participating in Movember as well. As my first post-break article, I decided to compile a "Best Of" list of mustaches by American soccer players (both MLS and USMNT players) and personalities, ranked 5 to 1.

Best American Soccer Mustaches

5. Marcelo Balboa
Marcelo Balboa ranks in at number 5 on my list. Marcelo is one of the best players in USMNT history, known primarily for his bicycle kicks. His mustache was not too shabby either!

4. David Beckham
Becks comes in at number 4 on my Movember countdown. The world's best known footballer and former Galaxy superstar managed to make a unique mustache look fantastic. While the critics lampooned David calling his look "pirate chic", Beckham managed to pull off a mustache and now it is just as well-known as his signature set pieces.

3. Shep Messing

Shep Messing, known to many as the first American soccer, star sits at number 3. Shep is probably best known as the NY Cosmos goalkeeper from their Golden Era. Known for his flair and personality, Shep's mustache was an image just as synonymous with the Cosmos as Chinaglia scoring a goal. Shep's iconic mustache is an image all Cosmos fans remember fondly.

2. Sacha Kljestan

Sacha Klestan's mustache is the most iconic current mustache in my opinion. Sacha's 'stache has become part of his image and the Belgian fans of Sacha's club Anderlecht have identified with it. This past summer I visited Belgian for a day, and naturally decided to visit Anderlecht's stadium and proshop (where I picked up a Kljestan jersey). While waiting to get my jersey printed, the lady working the counter shouted, "Le Mustache!" or "The Mustache!" immediately referring to Sacha. As I wore my jersey around Belgium the rest of the day, the locals would shout, "SACHA! L'américaine avec la moustache!" Or, "SACHA! The American with the mustache!"

The look has resonated and given Kljestan an identity with the locals.

1. Alexi Lalas 

Alexi Lalas ranks in at number one (as if there was any surprise). Better known for his iconic look of long red hair, mustache and beard, Alexi was the first iconic, highly recognized member of the US Men's National Team. As the years passed, Alexi decided to clean up his look and shave the beard and mustache and cut his hair. Alexi's clean shaven look was a shock to many, but Alexi has proven he still has his stache skills by growing a fantastic mustache last year for Movember and has matched his feat in a matter of days again this year. 

Alexi puts every other mustache to shame. 

What do you think of this list?
Am I missing anyone? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to keep an eye out for future posts! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Defensive Debacle

The US Men's National Team has always had quality defenders. However, there have been quite a few issues with the national team defenders lately. Following this week's past two US Men's National Team games, against Scotland and Brazil, I noticed issues on the defensive side of the team. I'll begin with Geoff Cameron. While Cameron is a great player with the Houston Dynamo, he hasn't shown that same impact with the national team. Between his red card against Panama, and then his Own Goal against Scotland, I think it's fair to say that Cameron isn't the most liked player by most American fans right now. Albeit, his goal didn't end up changing the result of the game, it still proved Cameron has a long way to go before he can be counted on in a match of great importance. Next, I'll mention Onyewu. 'Gooch' has not been performing or playing very well lately. In the game against Brazil yesterday, Onyewu was caught walking, staring, and standing still as opposed to being his typical menacing self. Remember the Onyewu that broke Imbrahimovich's rib and was scary and menacing when playing teams such as Mexico? He doesn't seem to exist anymore. The same goes for captain Carlos Bocanegra. 'Boca' was off his game ately, especially against Brazil. Bocanegra, like Onyewu, didn't seem to have the same drive or determination as usual, and played rather poorly yesterday. Continuing on to Steve Cherundolo. Cherundolo is a very good right back, however I have one major problem with him. Cherundolo is always running the whole length of field, often going to the opponents box with the ball. I don't understand why 'Dolo' does this, as a defender. There are plenty of capable midfielders and forwards on the team that can do this as opposed to Cherundolo, yet he does it every game. When the ball is stolen, the 33 year old defender has to double back to cover the backline that he left exposed. Michael Parkhusrt hasn't played enough, and Clarence Goodson hasn't even played at all, to be fairly be judged. 
The two bright spots I have seen lately on the defense are in Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo. Johnson has been called one of the best defenders/midfielders in the Bundesliga and he has shown that same skill on the field for the USA. Klinsmann has said that Tim Ream is not very high on his list at this time, which is understandable seeing that he has gone through quite a bit this past year: between his marriage, moving to the UK, his trade to Bolton, and Bolton's relegation from the EPL. 

I believe Jay Demerit deserves a call up. Before anybody says Jay is too old, I have a few things to say. Jay is 32 - a year younger than Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo. Jay is a strong defender, is built like a true centerback, and could be mistaken for linebacker. He is exactly what is needed in my opinion. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was recently quoted as saying, "the team needs to be nastier".  Jay is the type of player that would fit this role, in my opinion. Seeing as things with the current defenders aren't optimal, it can't hurt to try something new. 

Is it right or fair to automatically give these players, including Bocanegra, a starting position every game, even though they didn't necessarily earn it with their play lately? Who should Klinsmann call up as a defender for the USMNT next?  Give me your opinions below. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

The World's Best Soccer Players

I was thinking recently about the world's top soccer players, so I amassed a list of the best players. The majority of the players on this list are from the modern era.

Please also keep in mind that the order of the names does not denote any ranking.

Which names on list do you agree or disagree with?
Leave a comment below!

  1. Zidane
  2. Henry
  3. Cantona
  4. Beckham
  5. Owen
  6. Rooney
  7. Shearer
  8. Figo
  9. C. Ronaldo
  10. Ronaldo
  11. Ronaldinho
  12. Kaka
  13. Pele
  14. Maradona
  15. Messi
  16. Raul
  17. Xavi
  18. Iniesta
  19. Ballack
  20. Klose
  21. Podolski
  22. Klinsmann
  23. Matthaus
  24. Stoichkov
  25. Baggio
  26. Totti
  27. Van Persie
  28. Beckenbauer
  29. Chinaglia
  30. Bergkamp 
  31. Drogba
  32. Dempsey
  33. Donovan
  34. Valderamma
  35. George Best
  36. Ibrahimovic
  37. J S Park
  38. Schevchenko
  39. Eto’o
  40. Roberto Carlos
  41. David Villa
  42. Ruud Gullitt
  43. Ozil
  44. Casillas
  45. Cech
  46. Howard
  47. Kahn
  48. Cruyff
  49. Nedved
  50. Gazza
  51. Cannavarro
  52. Carlos Alberto
  53. Rivaldo

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Donovan Dilemma

Landon Donovan is known as USA soccer's native son. He has been chosen to carry an entire nation's hopes and aspirations of soccer dominance on his back. Donovan is the US Men's National Team all time leading scorer, playmaker, and without a doubt, the greatest soccer player the US has EVER produced. Landon deserves his number 10 shirt he wears for both the US National Team and his club team, LA Galaxy. Landon is also the poster boy for USA soccer and the best known USA soccer player, among casual and non-soccer fans in the US. Landon has just returned from his 2 month long loan to EPL club, Everton, for the second time in two years.

Landon is loved and respected by the Everton fans, and has been named as player of the month during both of his loan spells with Everton. Landon has proven himself, time and time again, and many fans and critics, including Donovan's former national teammate Brad Friedel, have criticized Donovan for "taking the easy way out" by staying in MLS.

I disagree.

Donovan, is the final remaining US Men's National Team star, in MLS. If Donovan left, it would be disastrous for the league on many levels. Every other National Team hero, including; Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley all left their MLS clubs to play with European clubs - Manchester United, Fulham, Villareal and SC Heerenveen. These four, along with nearly every other US National Team player, left the league to move on to "bigger and better" teams in Europe.

Every single MLS fan, wants the league to eventually grow, thrive, and prove that it can be one of the best leagues in the world (while our league is already arguably one of the ten best leagues in the world, it can and will get better). How can this happen, when every national team player, from Howard, Dempsey, Altidore, & Bradley, on down, leave MLS and play abroad? How can we as fans or a league say Major League Soccer is a strong and thriving soccer league when not a single USMNT star player plays here?

With Donovan here in MLS, it proves that the league is a strong and good one. He proves on countless occasions that he is the best team player for the stars and stripes. He proves that he has the skills and talent to play on top teams.

Donovan sends the message, that he, as best American soccer player, stays in MLS and plays, despite his ability to play in the Bundesliga or EPL. He is speaking volumes to the skill quality of the league ans he is encouraging other Americans to follow suit.

If we look at every other league in the top 10 leagues in the world, there are star players from their national team, play there. Look at the German National Team, for example. The stars - Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller, Mario Gomez, and Manuel Neuer all play in the Bundesliga. Yet, there are star national team players playing with top teams outside the Bundesliga (Klose with Lazio, and Khedira and Ozil with Real Madrid). By National Team stars staying in Germany and playing in the Bundesliga, it aids both the Bundesliga and the German National Team. Imagine if every German Star played outside the Bundesliga. It would be disastrous.

Donovan is doing the right thing by staying in the MLS. He could be scoring goals and assists on a weekly basis in the EPL, La Liga, or the Bundesliga; however, he chose to stay and help grow the MLS. An admirable and great cause, and we should all thank him.

Landon Donovan is helping American Soccer grow and thrive by staying in the MLS. I stand behind his decision and American Soccer fans should too, especially if they want MLS and soccer in America to grow.

Thank you, Landon Donovan.

I want to hear your thoughts and opinions, leave a post below.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

MLS Cup 2011 - The Hollywood Ending to a Stellar Season

On Sunday, November 20th, the LA Galaxy faced the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup in the Galaxy's home stadium, The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy finished the season winning every home game, an amazing feat. In addition to being the last game of the season for the Galaxy to conclude their unbeaten home streak, it was David Beckham's last game under his 5 year contract for the MLS. Many had called Beckham's time in MLS a failure because of his inability to help his club earn a major trophy. While the Galaxy made there way to the 2009 MLS Cup final to play Real Salt Lake, they ended up loosing in a penalty shootout, 5-4, after a critical Donovan penalty miss where the ball was sent flying over the bar.

This past Sunday, the Galaxy were out for redemption and a trophy. The Galaxy and Dynamo played in front of a sold out crowd in Carson, CA. While the Galaxy had the advantage, Houston did not make it a simple game. The Galaxy were the obvious favorites, between their unbeaten home record and their superb roster - boasting 3 top notch big name designated players: Beckham, Keane, and Donovan. The Galaxy were off to a rocky start after, Alan Cristman was unable to convert three easy goal opportunities in the first half. Early in the second half, Irish international, Robbie Keane trappeda long cross and scored a goal only for it to be called offsides, controversially. The game remained scoreless until Beckham and Keane, combined to assist Landon Donovan's goal in the 77th minute. Some critics criticized Donovan for asking to be allowed to miss the November USMNT friendlies in order to stay with his club and prepare for MLS Cup. I respected Donovan's decision and it clearly paid off. With Donovan's lone goal, the Galaxy won MLS Cup for the first time since the acquisition of David Beckham.

After an amazing season and team effort by the Galaxy, they won MLS Cup 2011 with Landon Donovan being given the game MVP award. In addition, this team has been named the best team in MLS history, with their record and the most expensive team in MLS history having a team salary of $13,058,438. The Beckham Experiment was a success, while it took years and money to finally work, it was a success. Beckham finally got to hoist the MLS Cup, an image that will stay with us fans for a long time to come. It is also, interesting to note, that Beckham has won a championship in three separate leagues in 3 separate countries, a spectacular feat - not many players have accomplished. While we don't know Beckham's club future, quite yet, it has been said he is split between staying with MLS or moving to France to join PSV. It will be interesting to see where Beckham ends up. I foresee Beckham staying with the Galaxy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My USMNT video!

I made a video about the USMNT and the journey they have taken to prove themselves to the rest of the Soccer World chronicling the buildup of the team from the 2002 World Cup up tothe present.
Please give it a watch and give me your thoughts!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MLS Playoffs

I've been busy, but now I am back and blogging about my favorite topic - American soccer!
So much is going on right now, in the MLS playoffs. The wildcard matches ended exactly how so many had expected, with New York and Colorado advancing to the next round.

Conference Semifinals began yesterday where we saw the Seattle Sounders take on Real Salt Lake. Salt Lake easily scored three goals against Kasey Keller and the Sounders back-line. Alvaro Saborio scored twice and the coup de grace was scored by Ned Grabavoy in the 88th minute.

Today we saw three playoff games, but none were quite as hyped as New York Red Bulls vs LA Galaxy. The face-off between the MLS designated players: Beckham, Keane, and Donovan against Henry and Marquez. Mike Magee scored the game's less than stellar decisive goal in the 15th minute and this turned an already very physical game more dangerous. But the real action didn't happen until after the final whistle blew. After the game was over, New York defender, Rafa Marquez, threw the ball at Landon Donovan, this turned into a fight, which resulted in red cards for Rafa Marquez and LA Galaxy's Juninho. I for one, have had enough of Rafa's antics. For the money is earning, he isn't showing anything for it! Between badmouthing his own teammate Tim Ream, his consistent red cards and suspensions, and poor leadership skills, it seems as if Marquez may have seen his final days in the Red Bulls uniform. I would be shocked if Rafa is still playing for the Red Bulls next year especially if New York doesn't advance past the Galaxy on wednesday.The whole point of brining in such an expensive player is to make the fans happy and win games. It is interesting when so many fans, are unhappy with Marquez and prefer when he doesn't start for the Red Bulls. Not to long ago, the Red Bulls didn't win a single game when Rafa was starting. New York has to do some thinking about Rafa - and soon.

The League's most expensive DP's
(Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Rafa Marquez, and Thierry Henry)

On another note, I enjoy watching the Beckham vs. Henry MLS rivalry! It is lively and exciting fight to see the two highest payed players going at it. The former Manchester United and Arsenal men are giving the fans their money's worth.

While on the topic of the Red Bulls, Hans Backe has not been giving promising youngster Juan Agudelo any playing time. It is surprising that the young American star hasn't been given a chance to perform on the field. Some are questioning whether Agudelo is being punished by Backe. Many fans and pundits, myself included, are hoping to see Agudelo get some major playing time on Thursday. We will see what happens on when the two teams face off again in the second and final part of this series at the Home Depot Center back in LA where the Galaxy are unbeaten this year.
In other games, the Dynamo seemed to beat the Union at PPL park 2-1 with ease earlier. All three of the game's goals came in the first 30 minutes of the game. Calen Carr scored a quality goal for the Dynamo and Freddy Adu showed promise for Nowak's Union clearly deserving a start in Houston on wednesday. Sporting Kansas City took on last year's champions, the Colorado Rapids in today's final matchup. SKC's Teal Bunbury scored two goals, one of which was from the penalty spot to ensure Kansas City a much needed confidence booster and win.

The final round of the Conference Semifinals will be played this week, with the Conference championships coming Sunday, November 6th.

Please comment about your thoughts on what RBNY should do with Rafa Marquez, and who will win the MLS Cup this year.