We already know the British tabloids can be over the top and insensitive when it comes to issues they don't understand, but perhaps no one in the American soccer community knows that better than US national team and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The World Cup veteran and national team fixture since 2007 has gone from being called "disabled" and "retarded" by the British press when he moved to Manchester United in 2003 to something of a club legend and cult hero for current club Everton, all in the space of a decade.
Not only has Howard learned to cope with the Tourette's syndrome that accompanied him his entire life, but he's now raising awareness among children. The message? Tourette's hasn't defined Howard, and nor should it define them.
In the April-May issue of Neurology Now, Howard spoke at length about his life with Tourette's from his childhood struggles to life in the spotlight as a Manchester United and Everton star.
Said Howard of being a little boy with TS: “From the age of 9 to 15, it was just this chaos of different tics, and they were pretty strong. I would just begin to figure out how a tic worked with my body, and, bam, six months or a year later, a new tic would come.”
“On the field I wasn't Tim who had TS or Tim who had tics. I was Tim who scored goals or scored baskets or hit home runs.”
These days, Howard keep the goals out, but you can't help but admire him for pressing on and passing his message onto others with similar challenges.
Howard isn't the only professional athlete who thrived despite the sometimes nasty disorder. Former Major League Baseball player Jim Eisenreich had a 15-year career in the big leagues, while former NBA player Chris Jackson, who Howard himself cites as a role model in his early years with TS, was a first-round draft pick in 1990 and enjoyed a 15-year career in America, Europe and Asia.
Is the quest for a place in the UEFA Champions League comparable to liberating a faraway kingdom from a terrible dragon?
That might be a good question for Tottenham and US national team star Clint Dempsey, who is one of many English Premier League players taking part in “Premier League Reading Stars,” a commendable project intended to develop and encourage reading skills among children in the United Kingdom.
Deuce's favorite book? J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic The Hobbit, which he enthusiastically describes as “a good read” and “a story about personal growth” in a video for the project.
“It's being able to go outside the comforts of your own home, and go out into the real world and see what's out there,” said the Texan as he explained why he loves the 75-year-old tale. “And even though it's going to be tough, and it's going to be ups and downs, it's about the adventure that you would've never got if you'd never left home. Without putting yourself outside your comfort zone, you don't know what you're capable of doing.”
As Dempsey narrates the harrowing adventures of Bilbo Baggins and his colleagues, it's not hard to see parallels with Dempsey's own professional journey from an unheralded rookie with the New England Revolution to USMNT captain and standout performer in one of the world's toughest leagues.
“He was able to find that he had a lot of strength inside himself and that there were a lot of things he could accomplish,” said Dempsey of Baggins. “I think it's a great story about how you find strength from within, and strength from putting yourself in uncomfortable situations sometimes and being able to prevail.”
Though he's since moved on to become Toronto FC's head coach, Ryan Nelsen is also featured in “Premier League Reading Stars” with footage recorded during his final season as a player with Queens Park Rangers.
Nelsen picked a slightly different book, one from his five-year-old son's current rotation: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
“It just has a good buzz and wording to it, you can kind of sing it or you can read it,” said Nelsen. “My son absolutely loves it."
As our man Greg Seltzer pointed out last week, US national team striker Terrence Boyd has had a pretty stellar first season of top-flight European soccer. He's been mostly a starter, he's been mostly really good, and he's been mostly really consistent at putting the ball in the back of the net, scoring 12 times for Rapid Vienna.
But while he's been good, his team just hasn't. Not by their own standards, anyway. Currently the Green-Whites are 23 points off the pace set by (hated rivals) Austria Vienna, and are fighting for the second Europa League spot. For a club that's used to the top of the table – Rapid have an Austrian record 32 titles – third place just isn't good enough.
So the fans bricked up the front doors of the club's offices and made it clear that general manager Werner Kuhn is, ahem, not well-liked:
Credit to Deadspin for spotting the story, and to the Rapid Ultras for the image.
Michael Bradley, the teen sensation. Michael Bradley, the coach's son. Michael Bradley, the US national team star.
Michael Bradley, the actor? It's true. Check out Bradley's chops in this add for Volkswagen's "Viva il Calcio" campaign, airing in Italy.
Say what you will about Carlos Bocanegra and whether he's the same player he was during the past two World Cups. But the dude is a professional.
It's been a tough week for the US national team captain, omitted from camp by Jurgen Klinsmann for a lack of minutes with Racing Santander and name-dropped repeatedly in the bombshell article by the Sporting News' Brian Straus as a flashpoint for what is reportedly a rift between squad and coach.
But on Tuesday, Bocanegra took the highest road possible on all the relevant social-networking venues. First, he penned a thoughtful, respectful few lines on his Facebook page:
"During the last 18 months, Jurgen has introduced a lot of new ideas to the team and has a vision of how he wants to grow the program," he wrote. "Every coach around the world has his own style and methods. He has always been up front with players about where they stand and where he sees them going.
"Not every player is going to be happy with all of the decisions and methods, but he will tell you to your face where you stand. From a coach, that is the best thing you could ask for. One of the greatest strengths of this team has always been our unity and spirit, and we all remain committed to the cause of qualifying for the World Cup."
Then, he added some thoughts on his Twitter account:
Unfortunately sometimes your club situation directly affects your national team career. I appreciate all the friendly messages (cont)
— Carlos Bocanegra (@BocaBoca3) March 19, 2013
.. (cont) & would love to be in camp. Its an honor and a privilege to represent the USA. Lets all get behind the team for these 2 big games”
— Carlos Bocanegra (@BocaBoca3) March 19, 2013
It's that kind of leadership that makes fans hope Boca is back in the picture soon.
Rioters in Egypt set the Egyptian soccer federation building ablaze on Saturday, the latest in a series of protests in the wake of last year's Port Said soccer riots.
According to Jeff Bradley, Egyptian national team coach Bob Bradley, who coached the US from 2007-11, is safe:
Just spoke to Bob. He's fine.
— Jeff Bradley (@JerseyJBradley) March 9, 2013
The rioters were protesting a court's ruling to acquit death sentences for 28 fans of Al-Masry SC, prompting retaliation by supporters of Cairo-based Al-Ahly that left one person dead and several dozen reportedly hospitalized.
The ruling also upheld death sentences for 21 men who were found guilty of playing a role in the murder of 79 rival fans, mostly Al-Ahly supporters. There were also riots over the original ruling in January, leaving another 21 dead.
Bradley told SI.com in February that he intends to continue as Egypt's manager through World Cup qualifying despite the adversity. The Pharaohs, who have not qualified for the World Cup since 1990, are currently atop Group G with six points from two games. They return to action on Marcy 26 vs. Zimbabwe, a game scheduled to be played in Alexandria.
Sporting News soccer scribe Brian Straus spotted it during Wednesday night's broadcast of the Tigres UANL vs. Seattle CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg.
American midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, who plays for Tigres and goes by the nickname "Gringo" in Mexico, has apparently embraced the moniker and prefers it over his actual name on the back of his jersey (photo above by Brian Straus). It dates back to his days in Pachuca, where he played from 2006-12.
Some give the move a thumbs up: Below were some of the comments on the photo that was tweeted out by the Sporting News writer.
Are you in the same camp? How do you feel about the use of the nickname on the jersey?
@brianstraus I want this jersey so bad.
— Christopher Dwyer (@dwyercd) March 7, 2013
— San Diego Dragoons (@SDDragoons) March 7, 2013
We've seen plenty of German-Americans come into the US national team fold since Jurgen Klinsmann took the reins in 2011. But could Klinsmann and Co. could be turning their eyes south to Argentina to unearth two more dual-nationality players for the Stars and Stripes?
Affirmative, according to ESPN's Jorge Ramos:
— Jorge Ramos & Banda (@ESPN_JorgeRamos) February 19, 2013
In English, that's: "Jurgen Klinsmann has called Rogelio Funes Mori and Michael Hoyos and asked them if they would accept a call-up from the United States."
Both players spent a significant portion of their developmental years in the United States – Funes Mori (above, left), a forward, moved to Texas at the age of 10, where he attended high school and won the Sueño MLS contest, earning him a spot with FC Dallas' academy side. However, he returned to Argentina shortly thereafter and signed with River Plate, where he remains along with twin brother Ramiro.
Hoyos (above, right), a midfielder, was born and raised in Southern California, attending high school there before moving back to Argentina at age 15 and signing with Estudiantes de La Plata shortly thereafter, where he also remains. He was reportedly approached by the US U-20 side for a camp a few years ago, but opted to remain with his club team.
Both players have represented Argentina at the U-20 level and Funes Mori made a recent appearance in a friendly for the Albiceleste's senior team, but both could file a one-time nationality switch with FIFA to play for the US.
Do you think either player would make the switch? Would they be good additions to Klinsmann's US national team? Chime in with your thoughts below!
Could Jozy Altidore be the first American to capture a Golden Boot on European shores?
He's certainly on the right track at the moment, finding himself alone in poll position after scoring his 15th league goal of the season on Friday against VVV Venlo (above). With a little more than half a season in the books, only Vitesse's Wilfried Bony has scored more in the Dutch top flight with 16 goals.
Friday's goal, an effort reminiscent of a certain Frenchman now playing with Altidore's former club in New York, matched the American striker's total for all of last season with AZ. It also matched Michael Bradley's haul with Heerenveen during the 2008-09 season.
Herculez Gomez remains the only American to capture a Golden Boot outside the United States, tying for top scorer (10 goals) in the Mexican first division while playing for Puebla in 2010.
Do you think Altidore can do it? Let us know in the comment section below.
US international Robbie Rogers’ contract with Leeds United has been terminated by mutual consent, so what does that mean for the winger’s future? Could a return to MLS be in the cards?
The Columbus Dispatch has some early details for those wondering. For now, though, Rogers' agent is staying mum on the subject of potential destinations for the former Crew star.
The 25-year-old joined the Championship side 12 months ago after a successful trial period, but a head injury and ankle injury limited his involvement to just one start and three further appearances as a sub.
Rogers left MLS on a free transfer after five seasons with the Crew and is free to sign with any team overseas, but his rights belong to Columbus after the club made the left-footed winger a qualifying offer after the 2011 season.
Should Columbus bring him back? Or should Rogers look for another landing place in Europe?