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04 January 5:58 pm

Uno de los problemas más graves de nuestra sociedad es la brecha que existe entre los ricos y pobres. La desigualdad económica provoca, entre otras cosas, que haya gente en el mundo sin hogar. El no tener un techo encima donde vivir, genera desolación, e impide que las personas tengan la posibilidad de comunicarse e interactuar con otros.

Con base en esto, los austríacos Mel Young, miembro del Foro Económico Mundial, y Harald Schmied, relacionista público, fundaron en 2001 la Homeless World Cup, una organización sin ánimo de lucro que busca empoderar a las personas sin hogar.

La organización realiza “el mundial para personas sin hogar”, y cuenta con 73 organizaciones afiliadas, que proveen educación y apoyo desde el fútbol a través de programas de desarrollo sostenible, generando un impacto positivo en la vida de sus participantes.

La Homeless World Cup se lleva a cabo anualmente, y cuenta con el respaldo entre otras organizaciones, de la UEFA.

El corresponsal del New York Times, Damien Cave, estuvo presente en la más reciente edición del evento que se llevó a cabo en Ciudad de México. Cave realizó un perfil de Ana Aguirre, jugadora de la selección de México, proveniente de Ciudad Juárez, quien participó en la Homeless WC. A continuación su historia:

La Homeless World Cup México 2012 fue la décima versión del evento anual que comenzó en 2003, en Bekasi, Indonesia, y que además del torneo principal, organiza varios alrededor del mismo, tanto para hombres como para mujeres. Personalidades del fútbol internacional como los mexicanos Jorge Campos, Hugo Sánchez, Jared Borguetti y el danés Petr Schmeichel, entre otros, han demostrado su apoyo con la organización.
 

04 January 5:11 pm

Les écoliers ne seront peut-être pas d’accord avec une telle affirmation. Je ne parle évidemment pas des vacances scolaires mais bien de la reprise en MLS. Les supporters l’attendent avec impatience. Les joueurs aussi ont hâte de s’y remettre… ce qui ne déplaira pas aux employés dans les bureaux des clubs. N’est-ce pas, Antoine Hoppenot ?

04 January 3:58 pm

The Portland Timbers certainly haven’t stood pat this offseason.

General manager Gavin Wilkinson and first-year coach Caleb Porter have already injected steel into the side – acquiring MLS vets such as midfielder Will Johnson from Real Salt Lake, versatile defender Michael Harrington from Sporting KC and Jamaican striker Ryan Johnson from Toronto FC – and now they could be poised to add some much-needed creativity.

If the rumors currently flying are true, the Timbers could have another midfield acquisition in the works: Argentinian Diego Valeri.

At only 26, Valeri is entering the prime of his career and would be a promising acquisition for a Timbers side in need of a bit more attacking oomph. It also helps he seems to be out of favor at his current club.

Valeri currently plays for Club Atlético Lanús in the Argentine Primera División, where he’s made 156 appearances since debuting in 2003 and captained the team in their 2011 Clausura runners-up campaign, but hasn’t seen much time since ex-Columbus Crew star Guillermo Barros Schelotto took over as manager. Of course, that’s where Portland come into play.

Should the Argentine make the move to the Pacific Northwest, the Timbers could have the type of creative midfield presence that would allow Darlington Nagbe to shift permanently to the withdrawn forward role many believe will bring out the best in Porter’s former Akron prodigy.

He’s no stranger to foreign adventures, either. In July 2009, Valeri was loaned to Portuguese champions Porto, where he played one season, then spent six months on loan with Spanish second-division side UD Almería.

What do you think? Is Valeri the answer in Portland? Will the Timbers’ offseason moves pay dividends in 2013?

04 January 1:08 pm

The Daily Mail – alarm bells already ringing! – reported Friday morning that current Queens Park Rangers vice-captain Ryan Nelsen was headed back to MLS as an assistant coach with former club D.C. United.

It didn't take long for The Washington Post's Steve Goff to get his journalistic biplane off the ground to effectively red baron those rumors.

Just as quickly, others chimed in with another possible landing spot for Nelsen: Toronto FC, where former D.C. president Kevin Payne is reshaping the club.

If Nelsen does land on an MLS staff, it would continue the ongoing trend of former players moving into assistant coaching roles. The New Zealander would certainly have plenty of experience to draw on, as well as an intimate understanding of the league and valuable contacts back in England.

What do you think? Would Nelsen be a good hire at TFC or D.C. United? For an MLS side in general?

04 January 1:04 pm

Have you entertained thoughts about switching careers as we pass into 2013? Ever thought it would be cool to have a job in MLS, helping to grow the game day-in, day-out? Yes?

Then listen up, your opportunity is here.

Major League Soccer's National Sales Center is currently conducting a search to find their newest crop of recruits for the spring semester. This time around, they're adding a little twist. 

On Twitter. 

Interested yet? Here's what you need to do to get your foot in the door: 

1. Follow @MLSNSC on Twitter.
2. Send a tweet to @MLSNSC along with the #MLSNSC hashtag about why you want to make a career in soccer and sales. 

The tweets that get the most RTs, favorites and replies will be considered for interviews, and potentially a spot in the program. Here's the full rundown of how the process works. 

You know what they say nowadays, you only get 140 characters to make a first impression. Good luck. 

04 January 12:40 pm

As we slowly build up to Major League Soccer's 18th season – a scary thought, especially since MLS Cup still feels like such a recent event, for me at least – it's worth taking a look back at how it all started. Rest assured, the goings-on weren't always quite so polished.

Take, for example, the first signing in league history. US Soccer is counting down its top 100 moments as part of the federation's centennial celebration and included an interesting anecdote from president Sunil Gulati about what it took to bring national team star Tab Ramos to MLS. The league and US Soccer wanted Ramos – an national team player with Hispanic heritage and attacking flare – to help give the league an initial foothold with fans as well as other Americans playing abroad.

He certainly helped with both those aims, but when he committed his future to MLS, there wasn't even contract to put pen to paper on. I'll let Gulati explain.

“He was going to sign with Tigres, and what we decided at the very last moment was why not have a handshake to sign with MLS, and we would loan him to Tigres,” Gulati told USsoccer.com. “The league wasn't far enough along to have a contract or a standard player agreement or any of that, so it was just a handshake.”

Just a handshake. Imagine suggesting that to the current crop of agents stocking teams these days. You'd get laughed out of the room.

But after a year-and-a-half with Tigres UANL, Ramos kept his end of the bargain, ending up with his hometown MetroStars for the next seven seasons. It wasn't always smooth sailing – cue Red Bulls fans simultaneously nodding their heads and silently weeping – but Ramos became a pioneer in a league that he helped put on the map.

To think, all it took was a handshake and the belief that professional soccer in the US was worth the commitment.

“I was excited to come home and start a new experience,” Ramos said. “It was coming home and there was the draw of playing at Giants Stadium, where I had watched the Cosmos play and where I practiced with the Cosmos 10 years before. All those things were really important to me. Obviously, having my family here as well.

“And it was fun. It was fun drawing the big crowds the first couple of years. It was fun driving to the stadium, just to be part of the whole thing. It really truly felt like we had a professional league at home and it was going to stick.”

03 January 9:31 pm

Fredy Montero maybe never knew it or others purged it out of him: But like it or not, no matter what the formation may show on any given matchday, Montero is an old-school No. 10.

A No. 10 as in a supremely skilled, game-breaker. They may not be the fastest, the tallest or the strongest, but they're capable of that stroke of genius that other players can only dream about.

No. 10s are hot and cold. They're often enigmatic and maddening. They need freedom because they don't fit a specific mold. They can't be judged by the same measure as other players. They're different.

Well, since Montero was counted on for goals (he did score double-digit goals in each of his four seasons), we could instead use the "No. 9.5" label that Michel Platini once coined for Italian Roberto Baggio: the No. 10 who also finds the back of the net.

Whichever label fits him best, it's no secret that tweeners like Montero are dying a slow death in modern soccer, which is increasingly based on athleticism and production. The sport has very little patience any more for the artisans, whose production may not always be reliable or punctual, but whose craft is inimitable.

If Montero's return to Colombia does materialize, MLS will have lost one of its artisans -- the author of some of the best goals in league history. True gems. But these days the Sounders are not interested in art and pretty pictures. They want goals. Goals that win them trophies.

Montero's exit, if it happens, would follow that of No. 10's Sebastián Grazzini (Chicago Fire) and Davide Chiumiento (Vancouver Whitecaps), who departed during the 2012 season. Toronto FC also sent attacking catalyst Joao Plata back to Ecuador in midseason.

Meanwhile, as creative types like Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union) and Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) suffer through existential crises (where and how do they fit in MLS?), there have been rumors of another potential return to Colombia for FC Dallas playmaker David Ferreira.

Real Salt Lake are desperately trying to cling to their No. 10 Javier Morales and the New York Red Bulls looked far and wide before landing 37-year-old Brazilian Juninho Pernambucano.

Who's left out there? Columbus have their fingers crossed that a healthy Federico Higuaín can regain his form, while Colorado hope Martín Rivero can actually find his.

Before we get too alarmed, what we may very well be witnessing could just be a transition phase in MLS. A changing of the guard. The slighter, softer Montero's making way for a new breed of modern gamebreakers who are built stronger (see Sporting's Graham Zusi), bigger (see Toronto's Luis Silva), tougher (see Philly's Michael Farfan) and show up every game.

But finding another Farfan is easier said than done. Good luck, Seattle.

03 January 6:30 pm

With rumors flying about the possibility of Chelsea FC star Frank Lampard joining the LA Galaxy – when aren’t rumors flying around the Galaxy? – it’s no surprise that fans worldwide are anxiously waiting to see where one of the past decade’s top goal-scoring midfielders will end up.

On Thursday afternoon, it seemed like a done deal that Lamps was on his way out, according to a report on the Italian website Cittaceleste.it that quoted his agent, Steve Kutner, as saying: “As for the future, the only certainty is that he will change teams at the end of the season. Frank wants to play for a great side, capable of challenging for important targets and where he could win more trophies.”

But hold the horses. Kutner later went on BBC 5Live radio and denied he had done any interviews with the website. He said he hasn't "spoken to anybody about Lampard's future and hasn't given any interview about it," according to ESPN.com.

Still, the fact remains: It is common knowledge that Lampard is moving on at the end of the season. There are plenty of rumblings about offers from Lazio, Inter Milan and, of course, LA, with a reported $6.5 million-per-year contract from the MLS club.

That's all about his future. But there was also a brilliant rumbling on the internet on Thursday about his past.

Here’s a great video that recently surfaced from Lampard’s early days, showing then-West Ham manager Harry Redknapp adamantly defending his decision to offer Lampard a spot on the team. Of course, Hammers supporters still aren’t the English international’s biggest fans, but Redknapp turned out to be 100 percent correct about his young prodigy and nephew.

03 January 1:23 pm

Les nouvelles de ces derniers jours, souvent liées aux transferts, peuvent, comme les épisodes de la série Friends, avoir un titre qui commence par « Celui qui… » Tour d’horizon.

Celui qui a déjà signé : Carlo Cudicini au LA Galaxy et José Goncalves à New England, les deux nouveaux venus les plus récents, titulaires plus que potentiels.
Celui qui se tâte : Il y a toujours ces joueurs importants pour l’équipe qui ne savent pas trop s’ils vont tenter une nouvelle aventure. Le champion de la catégorie cet hiver s’appelle Landon Donvan, sur qui le LA Galaxy compte cependant déjà pour 2013.
Celui qui se fait attendre : À un peu plus de deux semaines de la reprise, deux équipes n’ont toujours pas d’entraîneur, Montréal et New York. Gary McAllister, souvent cité autour de la Red Bull Arena, n’aurait cependant pas reçu d’offre du club au taureau ailé.
Celui qui envisage l’aller-retour : L’hiver en MLS, c’est aussi l’occasion pour certains joueurs de décrocher un contrat de quelques mois en Europe. Ce ne sera pas le cas de Thierry Henry à Arsenal. « Il n’est pas prêt », estime Arsène Wenger. Tim Cahill, en revanche, pourrait être prêté à Sunderland.
Celui qui viendra peut-être, mais peut-être pas tout de suite : « J’aimerais, un jour, jouer en MLS ». Le refrain est connu, qu’il soit chanté par Kaka ou Olivier Occean. Dernier interprète en date : l’international polonais Ludovic Obraniak.
Celui qui est bien où il est : Pas question de traverser l’Atlantique pour les Canadiens et Américains dont la carrière tourne à plein régime en Europe. Parmi eux, Sacha Kljestan, qui préfère même Anderlecht à l’Espagne ou à la France.
Celui qui ne prend pas encore sa retraite : Il y a de ces joueurs éternels qui déjouent chaque année les pronostics prévoyant la fin de leur carrière. Montréal a eu Eduardo Sebrango, Houston a Brian Ching.
Celui qui est attendu de pied ferme : Cette entrevue de Sepp Blatter, président de la Fifa, date bien d’il y a quelques jours et non d’il y a plus de 6 ans. Le commissaire Don Garber l’a donc invité au Coup d’envoi de la saison pour qu’il constate les progrès de la MLS de ses propres yeux.

03 January 12:34 pm

Rest assured, the flood of Honduran players to Major League Soccer hasn't reached the high-water mark just yet.

According to comments from the player himself, the Seattle Sounders are closing in on the signing of CD Victoria defender Wilmer Crisanto, who they've been pursuing for some time if the reports are to be believed.

Here's what the right back (above) had to say to Cronometro: "It is a matter of my salary, they already told me what I was going to earn in Seattle. I asked my agent to try to get a little more but if he's not able to, I'll have to settle for what they offered me, I'm not asking for much."

Of course, nothing is official until the final shoe drops, but the 23-year-old sounds pretty confident that he'll be the latest Catracho to land in MLS.

The other tidbit to come out of the article concerns Crisanto's teammate at Victoria and with the Honduran Olympic team, José Velásquez Colón. According to the story, the center back is preparing to embark on a trial with the Sounders after a successful year for both club and country.

What do you think? Have Hondurans taken over from Colombians as MLS' biggest import?