Ça y est, c’est le grand jour. Alors que les éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde commencent en Europe, chez nous, on entre dans une phase cruciale de l’avant-dernier tour. Après mardi, il ne restera que deux rencontres aux douze prétendants pour ravir une des deux premières places de leur groupe.
Actuellement deuxième après un quatre sur six, le Canada accueillera ce soir le Panama, auteur d’un sans-faute jusqu’à présent. Avec un but en deux rencontres, les Canadiens doivent améliorer leur production offensive. Ce n’est pourtant pas la confiance qui manque aux attaquants, mais ils se doivent d’être efficaces en équipe nationale. Meilleur buteur de Montréal, Patrice Bernier est clair à ce sujet : « Je suis un milieu de terrain, mon rôle n’est pas de marquer. »
Quelle configuration offensive choisira Stephen Hart ? Nous en avons parlé avec Olivier Occean dans l’émission Coup Franc, durant laquelle nous avons aussi présenté les principales forces du Panama dont Blas Pérez, une des rares satisfactions d’un FC Dallas en regain de forme. Bonne nouvelle pour les téléspectateurs francophones : ce match, l’un des plus importants du Canada depuis des lustres, sera diffusé sur TVA Sports à partir de 19h00 (coup d’envoi 19h45).
Les États-Unis se déplaceront pour leur part en Jamaïque, où le moral est au beau fixe. Jürgen Klinsmann voit d’un bon œil le fait que ses joueurs évoluent dans des clubs de plus en plus prestigieux, mais compte aussi sur des talents restés au pays comme Kyle Beckerman. On retrouve également de nombreux joueurs de MLS chez les Reggae Boyz.
Ceux de Houston auront le sourire quand ils croiseront Nick Rimando, un des quatre gardiens américains, qui a causé la perte de Salt Lake à Houston hier soir en championnat. Notez enfin que ce samedi, Seattle recevra Chivas USA.
Doubtless, you've read about German-born American right back Timmy Chandler turning down yet another call from Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the qualifiers against Jamaica. Doubtless, you've got some questions about where the young man's head and heart are.
According to Chandler himself, they're still in Nürnberg with his club team. That's according to this article from Franco Panizo:
"I wanted to show that Nürnberg is one of the bigger teams of the Bundesliga and it was a decision of the heart," Chandler told Panizo. "I wanted to show Nurnberg that I'm thankful for what I've achieved in my time with the team so far."
He goes on to explain that he's repeatedly turned down calls from Klinsmann – who he's in contact with on a regular basis – because he doesn't like the travel. But that he'd maybe play in October if Klinsmann called him for those qualifiers. And that he won't rule out playing for Germany. Who still haven't shown any interest in capping him (and aren't going to unless about five other guys fall off the face of the earth).
What's it mean for the US right now? Not a lot – hopefully they're locked in on the Reggae Boyz. But it's got to be at least a little bit galling to some of the guys in the hunt for a regular role that Klinsmann is so fixated on a player who keeps rebuffing him at every chance. These aren't friendlies, after all: These are must-win World Cup qualifiers. Hard to believe Chandler cares about the guys in the training room and/or the uniform he's wearing if he can't make time for that.
It also forces some (more) serious questions about the continued omission of Eric Lichaj, and the snail's-pace integration of guys like Steven Beitashour and Chance Myers. Chandler isn't a great enough talent to put everyone else on hold, after all. If he was, pretty clearly he'd already be representing Germany.
Jurgen Klinsmann has had some pretty good luck importing dual-nationality Yanks from around the globe. Save for the occasional Timmy Chandler swing-and-a-miss, his main squad-building technique seems to be roping in as many "possibly maybes" as he can.
And now he'll have a new target:
Just spoke with Aron Johannsson, leading scorer in Danish Superliga. Born in Alabama, playing for Iceland U21s, open to USA. More to come
— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) September 5, 2012
Johannsson's a big guy, standing just a shade over 6-foot, but is actually more of a winger than a center forward. And he looks a lot like Kevin Bacon. Google him if you dare.
For nearly a year now, Bob Bradley has blazed an unlikely trail as manager of the Egyptian national soccer team as it attempts to reach the 2014 World Cup amidst a turbulent political climate in the country.
Filmmaker Jeffrey Plunkett – a midfielder on Bradley's Princeton University team that reached the 1993 NCAA Final Four – has used his camera to chronicle Bradley's often harrowing journey in a documentary titled We The Pharaohs and, based on the trailer above, it looks to be quite the film.
On the field, Bradley has gotten off to a solid start on the road to Brazil, with Egypt topping Mozambique and Guinea to get off to a perfect start in qualifying.
However, just as important as his results on the field has been his ability to endear himself to the Egyptian people, standing in solidarity as they go through one of the most difficult times in their history. Political upheaval and violence have rocked the country for more than a year, and the deaths of 79 people at a local soccer game in Port Said in February were strongly linked to the political violence enveloping the country at the time and had a dramatic impact on the national soccer scene.
Unfortunately, we won't be seeing the end product of the film chronicling this incredible journey any time soon – work on the film will be completed next fall, around the end of the World Cup qualifying, with the film set for release in spring 2014. Still, be sure make a note of this one – if the trailer and story so far are any indication, it promises to be outstanding.
Michael Bradley wasn't called up to the US national team for Wednesday's match against Mexico because he's busy settling in at Italian Serie A club AS Roma.
Here's how it's going for him so far:
If you believe the reports, Clint Dempsey may very well land on Merseyside in England.
Just perhaps not in Liverpool FC colors.
The Daily Mail says that "Everton are considering rivaling Liverpool in the race to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham."
David Moyes and Everton, big fans of American players over the years, have landed a windfall of cash after the transfer of Jack Rodwell to Manchester City and apparently are looking at potentially throwing some Clint's way as a replacement for Tim Cahill, who recently joined the New York Red Bulls.
It's probably not what the 29-year-old US national team star had in mind with one year remaining on his Fulham contract after making it abundantly clear he wanted to play in the UEFA Champions League.
The news out of England point to a disparity in Fulham's valuation on a transfer (reportedly $14 million) and what the likes of Liverpool and others are willing to offer (circa $7 million).
Dempsey was not called up by Jurgen Klinsmann for Wednesday night's US friendly in Mexico and he continues to train with Fulham's youth squad, apart from the first team.
According to the latest reports, the ex-New England Revolution player won't be there when Fulham opens the English Premier League season at home against Norwich City on Saturday.
"God with me partnerAin't no one for me to fearHindsight 20/20Future not as clear" (T.I.)
— Clint Dempsey (@clint_dempsey) August 14, 2012
You've probably heard by now that Maurice Edu is most likely going to get a start in central defense for the US against Mexico on Wednesday night.
Jurgen Klinsmann has his reasons. First and foremost is that none of the newcomers in the US central defensive player pool — including Geoff Cameron — have shown that they're ready to lock down a starting spot. So Klinsmann has to turn every card he can looking for an ace.
Secondly, though — and this is pure speculation on my part — this might be a chance for Valencia to see what Edu looks like on the backline against top competition.
Valencia have been the third-best team in Spain for about the past 15 years, meaning that their interest in Edu is a gigantic step up from Rangers, or whatever mid-table French side is pursuing him. And we know how Klinsmann feels about stepping up to the next level.
But there's virtually no chance that Edu can play in the midfield for a team of Valencia's caliber. He doesn't read the game well enough in 360 degrees, and is always more comfortable when things are playing out in front of him. We've also seen plenty of shanked 22-yard shots from him, enough to know that he's not going to add Michael Bradley-esque offense when pushing forward.
What Edu has the raw materials for, however, is the center of defense. I think Valencia see that much, and I also think that if he'd gone anywhere but Rangers he'd have been pushed into that spot after his great performance there in the 2008 Olympics.
So if you're a fan of both the US and La Liga, keep your fingers crossed that Edu has a blinder on Wednesday night. If he does, it could mean a move to the Mediterranean will soon follow.
Cette semaine, une nouvelle émission spéciale de Coup Franc : « La MLS vue de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique » - à écouter ici. L’équipe reçoit Thierry Marchand de France Football et Loïc Moreau, basé en Angleterre, du site mls-news pour en parler. Parmi les thèmes abordés :
- Quel regard portent les médias et les supporters européens sur la MLS ?
- Les particularités « exotiques » de la MLS ont-elles un côté attirant ou rebutant pour eux ?
- Sont-ils davantage attirés par les clubs des grandes villes, par ceux qui ont les meilleurs résultats ou par les vedettes ?
- Les préjugés, avérés ou non, qui y circulent.
- Les joueurs de renom : bons pour l’image de la MLS, mais ce serait mieux s’ils étaient plus jeunes…
- Le rôle des joueurs français et de l’Impact de Montréal sur l’intérêt croissant en France.
- L’intérêt porté par les clubs européens aux joueurs de MLS.
Nos autres sujets de discussion :
- Les équipes qui étaient en tête au début de l’été n’avancent presque plus : que se passe-t-il ?
- On parle aussi du calendrier de la MLS : équilibré ou non ? Été, hiver ou les deux ?
- Lisez ici le texte sur les périodes de méforme de Wondolowski
- Quelles conséquences pour le coup de tête de Nelson Rivas ?
Brendan Rodgers had nothing to say about Clint Dempsey at Friday's press conference in Toronto, but that doesn't mean the reports in England linking Liverpool to the American have slowed down.
The newest claim from the Daily Mail is that Liverpool could yet offer midfielder Charlie Adam as part of the deal to bring Dempsey to Merseyside. Of course, no offer has been made thus far according to Fulham, so maybe the tabloids are getting a little ahead of themselves. No surprises there.
Is Liverpool the right move for Deuce? What do you think he's worth? Make your voice heard in the comment section below.
Remember that age-old mantra reminding you to be comfortable in your own skin? Well, a couple of US national teamers went a step further.
Men's captain Carlos Bocanegra and women's superstar Abby Wambach were not camera-shy when ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue came calling. Both Bocanegra and Wambach shed some skin – and some visual insight – into what the soccer bodies look like from two of America's best.
The body of a soccer player, like any athlete, is defined as much by its impressive and imposing physicality as it is its ability to withstand the daily beating it takes.
"When you play soccer, you are going to get cut, you are going to get bruised," explains Wambach. "If sitiches have to happen, if staples have to come, that's just part of the game – just take it."
Also included in the fourth annual publication are the NFL's Rob Gronkowski, the WNBA's Candace Parker and the NBA's Tyson Chandler, among others.