World Football Challenge
A wink. A smile. And an uncontrollable giggle to boot.
That, my friends, is what I call flirting. And Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was the guilty party.
Trust me, this isn't one of those dismissive, formulaic one-liners that we're used to hearing from world stars when speaking of MLS. This, my friends, was an unprompted expression of real interest from Cristiano and there's genuine love in his voice for the USA.
You're going to have to see it for yourself:
When it's splashed all over the cover of Spanish sports daily Marca, we've got to take notice.
Here's what the headline says: "Red Bull gives Kaká wings" (thus the photo).
The rest of it: "The team from New York wants the Brazilian. The player appeals to the US league. ... But it would pay half [his salary]. Yesterday he didn't travel to Oviedo with Madrid. Saturday is d-day."
On Saturday, the Red Bulls also play in Montreal (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
PHILADELPHIA – Frank Lampard must have known this was coming.
Since appearing in a suite at The Home Depot Center alongside David Beckham a few weeks ago, the speculation about a possible move to the LA Galaxy has only heated up. And he can’t dodge the questions now, not with Chelsea on a two-week tour of the United States and American journalists only too happy to keep seeking clues.
Lampard keeps playing diplomat, of course, repeating that he’s under contract with Chelsea and happy with the European champions. But the England international did get a laugh in Tuesday’s press conference when asked if he’d like to play alongside his former captain in LA.
“I think that he might not want me, I don’t know,” Lampard said to laughs.
Galaxy fans can take heart in that he didn’t close the door on a future move if his services were deemed surplus to Chelsea.
“I’m waiting to speak to Chelsea [about a new contract] and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
WATCH: Chelsea's Lampard, Di Matteo laud evolution of MLS
American owners in the Premier League have a tendency to divide the opinions of even the most like-minded supporters.
Such is the case at Liverpool, where John W. Henry and Tom Werner's (pictured above) Fenway Sports Group are attempting to bring the club back into the English elite after a few disappointing seasons.
PHOTO GALLERY: John Henry at Liverpool training in Boston
On Thursday, I chatted with Mariner about a myriad of topics surrounding Saturday's friendly against the Reds at the Rogers Centre (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer/Sportsnet), including his thoughts on American owners in general as well as what was happening at Liverpool specifically.
Here is what he had to say:
“I’m a massive fan of North American ownership. Being around some fantastic owners in Robert and Jonathan Kraft [in New England] and now Larry Tanenbaum at MLSE, these guys are extremely wealthy people but they really care about the game. It’s similar to with [American players], there’s a certain stigma attached to American owners: ‘Oh, they don’t really know the game.’ They absolutely do know the game, the traditions, everything about what it means to take ownership of Liverpool Football Club. They know what it means to all the fans. They’re fantastic businessmen.
"If you look at what we have in MLS, it’s single entity and we’ve got the salary cap, which early on – I must admit – was laughed at a little bit by the European clubs. But with the advent with teams going into administration, like Glasgow Rangers which I never ever in a million years would have thought that they would be going into administration, they’re looking at the American model and thinking, ‘You know, this is not such a bad idea.’ When I would go to business conferences before I was head coach and I was director of player development, people would come to me and say, ‘You know, this business model that you’ve got, this salary cap, is not such a bad idea.” A lot of people are looking at this in a really serious way and saying this is a really good way to go. I know for a fact that Liverpool Football Club are in fantastic hands.”
When's the last time you've ever seen or heard Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich speak to the media?
So it comes as somewhat of a surprise to see the photo we stumbled on in this video, courtesy of Chelsea's New York Blues supporters club.
We'll see how loud these same fans are at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, when the European champs meet Paris Saint-Germain in the third of nine matches in the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge (7 p.m. ET).
Watch the video here:
Paul Mariner is tasked with slowing down Liverpool FC on Saturday, but that doesn't mean he isn't averse to sharing a few pointers with a fellow English No. 9.
Andy Carroll's future with the Reds may be in doubt – rumors have been swirling about his future under Brendan Rodgers, with a return to Newcastle gaining the most momentum – but Mariner didn't hold back when asked what advice he would give the 23-year-old striker.
A former England international and target forward back in his day, Mariner drew on his own experiences to identify a weak point in Carroll's game.
“I learned from a very early age that if you want to be successful at the highest level, you’ve got to be very consistent and you’ve got to have tremendous movement," Mariner told MLSsoccer.com. "In the old days, when defenders could come through the back of you, if you stood still, you were absolutely stupid because you wouldn’t last two minutes on the football pitch. You had to be constantly on the move.”
And how would Mariner apply that lesson with Carroll? As it turns out, with a little help from US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“Andy's an unbelievably imposing figure. He can strike fear in any defense. The one bit of advice that I would give Andy is that when he’s in the box I’ve noticed he’s just a bit static," Mariner said. "He’s got such tremendous ability. One of the greatest players that I saw in the modern era was Klinsmann. Klinnsman in the box was unbelievable.
"I remember one of the first goals he scored against Sheffield Wednesday. He basically made a step in front of the defender, then stepped out, the ball was delivered and all of a sudden it was in the back of the net. I’m only talking about a yard or half a yard, not massive distances. You’ve just got to unsettle the defenders when the ball is coming into the box. If Andy was to do that, then he’s very difficult to stop.”
Of course, Toronto FC fans will hope Carroll doesn't heed that advice come Saturday afternoon.
Una de las cosas que definitivamente tenía que ver en Seattle era la ya muy reconocida Marcha al Estadio o “March to the Match”, donde – con una banda de guerra al frente – los aficionados de Seattle Sounders hacen una ruidosa llegada al CenturyLink Field.
Para el partido ante Chelsea FC la fiesta no fue diferente. Los dejó con este video que es una pequeñísima prueba de la rumba que se arma antes del inicio de los partidos.
Un agradecimiento especial a la Barra Fuerza Verde por guiar a este extranjero de sus tradiciones y un detalle a resaltar: noten la seriedad de los hombres del Chelsea al segundo 11 de este video… no sé a ustedes, pero a mí se me hace que no esperaban que todo ese revuelo no fuera para ellos sino para los locales. Me gusta.
SEATTLE — One question that fans often ask me is "Which MLS team has the best training facilities?" My answer is always, "I don't know," since I've never actually made a study of it and always forget to ask people who have.
That said, judging by the reactions of Chelsea FC ahead of Wednesday night's Herbalife World Football Challenge opener against Seattle (9:30 pm ET; ESPN2), the Sounders may be the odds-on favorites.
Le centre d entrainement ici a Seattle wawwwww
— Eden hazard (@hazardeden10) July 15, 2012
That's French for "Holy crap, this place is diesel!"
Praise for the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton — about 25 minutes from downtown Seattle — has been a recurring theme amongst both the Chelsea players and staff.
"First I have to say is the facilities, the training ground is really unbelievable," winger Marko Marin said on Tuesday. "I never saw something like this — so big and everything."
Branislav Ivanovic had said something similar on Monday after a kick-around with members of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks (with whom the Sounders share the facility). And head coach Roberto Di Matteo was simple and to the point: "Very, very good," he offered.
So there you have it. Not a definitve answer by any means, but a neat little data point along the way.
Liverpool FC are going to open their doors to the public, Hard Knocks style, during their preseason tour of the US and Canada this summer.
Cameras will be following the players and coaching staff’s every move in the up close and personal documentary, which will be aired on FOX Soccer in a six-episode series entitled, "Our Liverpool: Never Walk Alone."
The Reds are taking on Toronto FC as part of the World Football Challenge on July 21 at the Rogers Centre.
Emmy award-winning producer Scott Boggin — mastermind behind the 24/7 HBO series, which has showcased the lead-up to the Ricky Hatton vs. Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz boxing matches as well as the NHL's Winter Classis between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals — will follow Liverpool on their North American tour as they prepare for the 2012-13 Premier League season.
FOX Soccer had this to say about the award winning producer:
"Scott's body of work is remarkable, giving fans a true peek behind the curtain into the lives of sport's biggest teams, athletes and coaches. Scott has proven his ability to capture these inner workings in a truly organic manner, and now he has the opportunity to tell Liverpool FC's rich story to a global audience."
The big question is, will the crew be able to understand conversations between Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher in their heavy Scouse accents? Let alone pick up manager Kenny Daglish’s Scottish brogue when he’s off-duty?
Only time will tell, but the show is sure to raise the Reds profile in North America and beyond.