7:50 AM 0 comments

Welcome to America, Barca

U.S. football fans have been spoiled all summer. It began with the U.S.'s improbable run to the Confederations Cup final; then the powerhouses of Chelsea, Inter, AC Milan, and Club America faced off around the country; and of course the loyalists of El Tri were tickled green to watch Mexico dismantle the Yanks in the Gold Cup. Now for the good part: Barcelona and Real Madrid are coming.

On Saturday, I'll be driving down to LA with my cousin to watch Barca take on David Beckham and the LA Galaxy. In 2006 we joined 92,000 fans (including Kobe Bryant, who was sitting a few rows behind us) at the LA Coliseum to watch Barca battle Chivas de Guadalajara. Unfortunately, I'll miss the same match-up when the two teams play in San Francisco on August 8 (wedding). But at least I'll get my fill at the Rose Bowl this weekend.

Fan site Barcaloco has posted the 26-man roster making the trip over here:

The 26 players are:
Valdés, Jorquera, Jorquera, Puyol, Alves, Sánchez, Piqué, Márquez, Henrique, Abidal, Maxwell, Xavi, Touré, Keita, Busquets, Gudjohnsen, Iniesta, Henry, Pedro, Messi, Bojan, Ibrahimovic (injured), Muniesa, Fontàs, Jonathan dos Santos and Jeffren.

The blaugrana will also make an appearance at the Nike store in Hollywood this Thursday June 30. Barcaloco also noted that the team will train at UCLA.

If anyone knows where Barca will be training in the SF Bay Area, give me a shout!
8:22 AM 0 comments

Inter Milan v Club America at Stanford

Went to the Inter Milan vs. Club America friendly at Stanford on Sunday. Great time to watch some of the world's best players warming up for their next campaign. America played well, and showed off their mid-season form by winning the game in penalty kicks (thanks to Patrick Viera missing the frame). It was also a treat being around Mexican fans, who were as passionate and festive as always. Enjoy the pics.

Club America fans before the game outside the stadium

Inter warming up

A view from the Club America section

Second half kick-off
1:14 PM 1 comments

Pour Salt on That Wound, Why Don't You?

According to MSNBC: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva presents a soccer jersey signed by the Brazilian national team to President Obama during the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, on July 9. During the exchange, Lula teased Obama about the U.S. soccer team's recent narrow loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup.

So much for diplomacy. Headline in tomorrow's papers: "U.S. Imposes Strict Sanctions on All Brazilian Imports".
9:13 AM 1 comments

Goal.com: Villa Signs with Barca

According to Goal.com:

Barcelona and Valencia have reached a deal that will see David Villa move to Camp Nou and are expected to make an announcement soon, Goal.com has learned.

A source close to Camp Nou has revealed exclusively to this website that the Spanish international striker has had his wish granted and he will join the European champions this summer.

Negotiations have been ongoing between Barça and Valencia and the Catalan club's president Joan Laporta even revealed that a bid had been made during a television interview on Wednesday evening.

Now Goal.com has been told that a deal has been struck and that Villa will be a Barcelona player, although no details of the fee or any of the Blaugrana's squad going in the other direction was divulged.

Laporta suggested that a offer of over €40million had been made and that, allied with los Che's new chief Vicente Soriano's promise to let the player go this year, has meant the treble winners have their man.

The arrival of Villa could speed up the departure of Samuel Eto'o, with both Manchester United and Manchester City linked with the Cameroonian striker, who was Barca's top league scorer last term.

Real Madrid opted not to pursue Villa after being told that he was not for sale and instead forked out a fee of up to €41million to sign Karim Benzema from Olympique Lyonnais.

Steve Michaels, Goal.com
10:55 PM 1 comments

Thoughts About USA-Honduras

The USMNT deserved its 2-0 victory today over Honduras. Two great goals by Santino Quaranta and Brian Ching-- as well as some beautiful plays from Benny Feilhaber, Charlie Davies and Steve Cherundolo-- demonstrated solid teamwork and creativity. Feilhaber in particular had a few nice touches that set the wheels of the offense in motion. Also a shout out to Freddy Adu for some fancy footwork and unselfish play.

All in all, I'm happy with the win. Only blemish was the first half when the team looked rusty and uncoordinated. No control in the midfield and sporadic drives down the side. Feilhaber's substitution changed the tempo of the game, as did the entry of Davies (where did this guy come from?!), and all of a sudden plays seemed to come together.

For me, the Gold Cup is a display of the next generation. Can these kids win big games? Will they provide a glimpse of how U.S. soccer is evolving? So far they seem rusty. But those few peeks of brilliance, most notably the Quaranta goal, give hope.

Here are the highlights (en espanol):

9:39 PM 3 comments

Gooch to Milan!

Wow, this is huge. AC Milan announced today that U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu signed a three-year deal to mend the team's aging defense. On one level I think this is a huge win for U.S. soccer's standing on the world stage, especially if Gooch gets playing time. But history has shown that for some reason our guys achieve limited success, with the exception of our goalies, when given the chance to prove themselves across the pond. Jozy Altidore can't find time with Villarreal, and neither has Freddy Adu shown his potential with Benfica. Clint Dempsey has fared well at Fulham, but he's not a star.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy. I hope Gooch will prove doubters wrong about the caliber of our players on European club teams. I'm cautiously optimistic.
10:36 PM 3 comments

Cristiano Ronaldo and His Itchy Crotch

Check out the video clip of Ronaldo's big introduction at the Bernabeu earlier today. Apparently the shorts were a bit snug. You figure he would've used some baby powder before the biggest day of his career. Courtesy of Marca.com. Enjoy.
10:30 AM 0 comments

New Players from Abroad

The USMNT blog on Thursday posted excerpts from coach Bob Bradley's conference call with reporters. During the call he talked about two names that are getting considerable attention among the USMNT faithful: Jose Francisco Torres and Jermaine Jones. Both are players that could add new depth to the US midfield, given their natural talent and experience abroad.

Torres grew up in Texas and was recruited by Mexican club Pachuca. Last October he announced he wanted to represent the red, white and blue at the international level, and has since seen some time during World Cup qualifiers. He didn't play during the Confederations Cup, much to the ire of fans critical of Bradley's roster choices during the tournament.

Jermaine Jones is the son of an American serviceman and a German mother. Most recently he played a key role in midfield for German Bundesliga squad Schalke, which made it into the Champions League elimination round during the 07-08 season. During yesterday's conference call, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said Jones could be eligible to play as early as August 2. Jermaine declared his desire to play for the U.S. after FIFA changed its eligibility rules for international players. If a player has dual citizenship, he/she can switch nations as long as the player didn't appear in official games. So, playing in a friendly is OK for switching.

Speaking of these new rules, another player in Mexico declared his desire to play for Team USA. Edgar Castillo, a left back at Tigres, was born in Las Cruces, NM and up until recently wanted to represent Mexico. Then he got wind of the FIFA changes and pledged his allegiance to the USMNT. More on Castillo in this NY Times article.

Part of me feels critical. Just because of some rule change, players who left for other opportunities abroad are now begging for playing time with the USMNT. But most of me applauds these developments. Our second half dismantling by Brazil last week reveled a lack of depth in our roster, so more talent and greater competition for playing time will make our team stronger.