The 2012 Olympic Games are right around the corner, and although the US men's team won't be featuring in this year's soccer tournament, one of MLS' most recognizable figures just might be. (Not to forget the US and Canadian women, either.)
In a new video from KickTV, LA Galaxy star David Beckham talked about the pride his country is feeling when it comes to hosting the Olympic Games and expresses his hope that he might be able to represent the UK in one of the world's biggest sporting extravaganzas. He's also got a great quote about captaining the England national team, saying, "Captain of my country was one of the best and biggest things I've ever done in my career."
What do you think? Will Beckham make the Olympic squad? Does he have what hit takes to lead the UK to Olympic glory? Will you be following the Games, soccer tournament or otherwise?
That’s the match – back in July 2010 – that many MLS observers still hang on to when it comes to reminding themselves of the promise of former Philadelphia Union striker Danny Mwanga.
But the magical days in a Union shirt for the former No. 1 SuperDraft pick have been few and far between in the last two seasons.
Mwanga’s last goal for Philadelphia in MLS play? It came nearly a year ago (June 25, 2011).
The 20-year-old has been on the field for 61 league matches over three seasons and found the back of the net in just 11 of those games.
One reason for the limited production is injuries. Plenty of them. Rarely will you find a third-year player who has missed matches due to the same variety of injuries: hip, right knee, groin, hamstring, shoulder and a case of sore ribs after falling on them in practice earlier this season.
If Mwanga’s durability to withstand the physical rigors of MLS is a concern, his lack of production without Sebastien Le Toux is downright alarming. Of his 12 goals in his MLS career, nine came off assists from Le Toux. The other three were unassisted.
In MLS you have to be tough and you have to be ready to adjust to any situation and any player. That’s why the Union are better off with the experienced Jorge Perlaza.
The Timbers highlighted Perlaza's speed when they acquired him at the start of last season and we’ve seen signs of how much of a factor it can be. But not in the goal-scoring department. Six goals in 32 starts – none this year – is nothing to write home about.
However, put Perlaza’s production into perspective: The Timbers are a team that don’t score many goals in general, whether Perlaza is there or not. In fact, only three teams have scored fewer goals than the Timbers this year. It was the exact same story at the end of last year.
Does Mwanga have more upside? Sure. He also brings good hold-up ability and the potential to playmake and create his own opportunities. But that’s also what Darlington Nagbe was expected to bring at the second forward position.
Mwanga’s integration into Portland’s system and his impact on Nagbe’s position will be fascinating to watch. It may not prove as seamless, however, as Perlaza who has the traits to be the perfect partner for hard-working compatriot Lionard Pajoy in the Union attack.
Maintenant que le match du centenaire contre les États-Unis est passé, le Canada se concentre sur le troisième tour des éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde dans la zone Concacaf, avec deux échéances aussi importantes que proches, ce vendredi à Cuba et mardi contre le Honduras.
Une seule rencontre de préparation contre un autre pays, solide et prestigieux, certes, mais dont le style ne correspond pas vraiment au jeu latino-américain des prochains adversaires : est-ce suffisant ? Heureusement, le Canada disputera son premier match à Cuba, équipe en théorie la plus faible du groupe et qui n’a plus joué depuis le mois de février. Mais tout droit à l’erreur est interdit sous peine de déjà compromettre la qualification.
L’attaquant Tosaint Ricketts ne s’attend pas à un déplacement facile. « Nous sommes préparés à une ambiance chaude : jouer à deux heures de l’après-midi, dans un environnement hostile. Les cubains sont de grands passionnés de football. Mais nous sommes pour la plupart des professionnels jouant dans des pays où nous effectuons des déplacements dans des stades hostiles. Nous devrons respecter la stratégie établie et rester concentrer sur notre match pour obtenir un bon résultat. » Le groupe s’y prépare dans la bonne humeur.
Ensuite, il faudra se mesure au Honduras, véritable bête noire du Canada, qui s’est préparé de la meilleure des manières en s’imposant de manière impressionnante 0-3 au Salvador (vidéo).
As they say, timing is everything.
On the same day the Houston Dynamo found out that they will face Honduran side Olimpia in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League this summer, the MLS club has reportedly plucked one of Olimpia's most prized possessions.
Honduran international midfielder Oscar Boniek García is apparently heading to the Dynamo after rumors of the deal first surfaced several months back. Diez is reporting that the president of Honduran club Olimpia has confirmed the deal.
The article states that Boniek García, who was one of the stars of the 2011 Gold Cup, will be joining the Dynamo following the second of two World Cup qualifiers on June 12 in Toronto.
He's versatile enough to play in several of a number of positions from holding midfielder, to attacking midfielder and even on the right side of midfield, a position still in flux for Houston in 2012.
But now he gets to go to Poland and Ukraine for EURO2012?
Now, I've been to a World Cup, a Confederations Cup, a Gold Cup, and an Africa Cup of Nations. But I've never been to a Euro tournament. They say it's the best of them all, at least on the field. All those great, highly paid Europeans doing what they do best.
But come on, Jimmy. Do you need to go over there and drive around and watch soccer and hang out with fans in Warsaw and Kiev and Gdansk? And someone else is footing the bill? Really?
Yes, Jimmy, I am jealous. Very jealous.
At least bring back some real kielbasa. That's the least you could do.
Being an English Premier League cast-off is no guarantee of success in MLS, but it sure is a good way to get a trial.
That's the case for American midfielder Anton Peterlin, who spent the 2009-10 season with Everton after a couple of distinguished seasons with the Ventura County Fusion stateside.
Peterlin never suited up in meaningful competition for the Toffees, and eventually spent the following two years with Plymouth Argyle and then Walsall in England's lower tiers.
Now he's giving it a go in MLS, apparently in camp with Vancouver:
CORRECTION: D.C. United has not yet clinched Carolina Challenge Cup championship. I apologize for the confusion. #MLS
— Andrew Wiebe (@AndrewWiebe_MLS) March 3, 2012
Régulièrement, je me réjouis de voir des joueurs de l’Impact montrer leurs efforts pour apprendre le français - sur Twitter, notamment. En revanche, j’ai abandonné l’idée de suivre en français les activités de l’Association canadienne de soccer.
L’ACS n’est pas amie avec la langue de Molière. On en eut une nouvelle preuve avant Canada - États-Unis. L’hymne national, Ô Canada, fut chanté entièrement en anglais (quelle idée de le chanter, alors que presque partout ailleurs, on passe la version instrumentale). On ne nous a même pas offert de réaction en français du Québécois Samuel Piette, pour ses débuts en équipe nationale à 17 ans (bravo à lui, en passant).
Un compte Twitter en français quasiment à l’abandon depuis fin mars, des communiqués trop souvent mal traduits ou écrits dans une langue approximative, un site Internet (en réfection, certes, mais ce n’est pas le meilleur moment) qui nous renvoie sur des textes en anglais même si on s’évertue à cliquer sur « français » : c’est indigne d’une organisation de cette envergure dont les employés ne rechignent pourtant pas sur les efforts.
En même temps, comment lui reprocher de délaisser le français alors que les médias francophones n’accordent pas à l’équipe nationale l’attention qu’elle mérite ? Pas une chaîne n’a daigné présenter en français le match du centenaire de la fédération sportive qui compte le plus d’affiliés au pays, dans la discipline la plus populaire au monde…
Dans un tout autre ordre d’idées, les huitièmes de finale de la Coupe des États-Unis se joueront ce soir. De nouvelles surprises à l’horizon ? C’est à suivre sur mlssoccer.com.
Anthony Ampaipitakwong's new home is Thunder Castle.
More accurately, San Jose are in negotiations with Thai Premier League side Buriram United over the transfer of Ampaipitakwong to the reigning league champions, which are also known as Thunder Castle and have a stadium to cement that impressive moniker (see above).
All in all, it looks like a solid move for Ampaipitakwong, who was on the outside looking in during his time with the Quakes. He heads to a team with Asian Champions League ambitions, a sweet nickname and a 24,000-seat stadium worthy of the Thunder Castle brand. Buriram United even have an English-language website, meaning Ampai's fans in the United States can follow his every move.
Dans son unique match de préparation avant la reprise des éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde 2014, le Canada a fait match nul 0-0 avec les États-Unis. Un bon résultat dans l’absolu, mais il faut éviter de tomber dans l’enthousiasme démesuré.
S’il y avait une bonne discipline défensive, la construction du jeu était souvent déficiente, reposant davantage sur des inspirations individuelles que sur un collectif bien huilé. Le Canada a dominé la deuxième mi-temps, contre des Américains fatigués, et a même marqué un but annulé. Je rejoins toutefois davantage l’avis du capitaine des États-Unis, Carlos Bocanegra, qui n’a pas vu un grand match, que celui de Dwayne De Rosario, très heureux du travail accompli.
La rencontre a été précédée de diverses cérémonies soulignant le centenaire de l’Association canadienne de soccer. Sur la photo d’équipe, les joueurs canadiens (qui portaient un équipement rétro spécialement conçu pour l’occasion) avaient pris avec eux un maillot floqué du numéro 11 de Josh Simpson, leur coéquipier qui s’est cassé la jambe il y a une dizaine de jours.
Malgré le duel Canada - États-Unis, la MLS ne faisait pas complètement relâche ce week-end, et New England y a battu Chicago 2-0.
So in retrospect ... how bad were Scotland?
I expressed my concern that the 5-1 result for the US in that particular game was a bit of a false positive (usage, I know), and am now bemused in my correctitude. The US are still a mess, looking very much a team in "Who are we, really?" mode.
Canada, meanwhile, get the pleasure of knowing they were the superior team for 90 minutes against the US for the first time since maybe the mid-1980s. And the displeasure of another bad call going against them in this series.
Klinsmann's lineup choices are still baffling
About 95 percent of the Jose Torres-related comments we get on this site are positive. And that's fine — it's always nice to have a favorite player.
But if Torres was as good as you all seem to think, wouldn't he stand out in a game like this? Wouldn't the US have more than one win in 11 games with him starting? Wouldn't he find a way to carve out chances for his teammates — or even, heaven forbid, himself — when afforded time and space in the final third?
That's what he got plenty of on Sunday. And he produced nothing.
The problem is not just his lack of a cutting edge in attack, but that he's being asked to provide something that's not in his DNA in the first place. Torres' only outstanding attribute is his ability to put his foot on the ball and dictate the pace and tempo of the game. Put him in a central midfield trio in front of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, and you may have something.
On the wing? He's an absolute cipher, Klinsmann's white elephant.
That wasn't the only lineup choice that left me scratching my head. Against a Canadian side alligned to prevent up-the-gut penetration, the danger was always going to come from the US flanks. So that left just one forward — Herculez Gomez — to do the running and work of two. Even when Jozy Altidore was subbed in, he was tasked with playing wide on the left instead of as a No. 9.
It makes no sense. And the Scotland anomaly aside, this team feels no closer to realizing Klinsmann's vision than it did nine months ago.
The US have depth at left fullback
Edgar Castillo still has some learning to do, first and foremost when to put the ball into row Z instead of trying to play out of pressure. His turnover absolutely should have been a Canada goal.
But he was a demon patrolling passing lanes and the most consistent US threat on the night. And most importantly, he didn't look out of place physically against a big, strong team with some real power and pace on that right flank.
I'm not totally in love with the idea of him starting for the US in a game that matters — again, that giveaway was inexcusable — but hopefully Fabian Johnson's injury will be gone by Friday. Either way, though, this is a stronger position than it was two years ago.
Canada's two-thirds press caused the US more problems than Brazil's high press
Canada dropped off almost to the midfield stripe, then swarmed the US midfielders whenever they received a pass. Because of the way they were deployed, they always had numbers up, and were always on the verge of forcing a turnover and a breakout.
Truth is, they should have had three goals. The reason Brazil are Brazil is because they finish those chances; the reason Canada are Canada is that they don't.
But there's plenty of good to take from this for the Canucks. Their defense is certainly sturdier than the USA's right now, and from the run of play they allowed almost no real looks to a team that had Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Gomez all on the pitch.
For the US, the idea of playing through or around a two-thirds press seemed beyond them. Playing over it was a non-starter, since Kevin McKenna and Andre Hainault just about swallowed Gomez whole.
The situation called for two forwards. When the US are struggling to create, it often does.
But that's not what we saw. We saw a bad 90 minutes, a bad strategy and a bad result.
Wonder what we'll see next week when the games really matter?