Talking about all things Soccer. Its Soccer, its serious… but not always.
James Keep – 03/06/16
TIME FOR THE COPA
The Copa America begins tonight, with the US national team taking on Colombia at Levi Stadium in Northern California. The US finished their preparations with a convincing 4-0 victory over Bolivia on Sunday but how will the US perform once the tournament begins? Some predictions have the Stars and Stripes crashing out at the first hurdle but a lot may depend on whether or not the team opts to stick with their new 4-3-3 formation. Will they stay positive for the tournament and who is likely to start? Only one man knows for sure.
One important thing to note about this summers special tournament: there will be no extra time in the quarterfinals or semifinals, with those games heading straight to penalties if everything is still tied at the end of 90 minutes.
There are also two more big names set to miss out on the tournament though, as Costa Rica’s Champions League winning goalkeeper Keylor Navas has been ruled out through a foot injury, while Kaka, himself a replacement for Douglas Costa is now also set to miss the tournament for Brazil with a hamstring injury.
CANADA KEEP PREPARING
Fans in Canada can only watch on with envy as the Copa America Centenario unfolds this month, but their national team is set to play two friendlies of their own as they gather in Austria for a training camp, first up is Azerbaijan tonight, followed by Uzbekistan next Tuesday. While there’s one youngster hoping to make his debut in the upcoming friendlies, there’s also a sense that this current squad is the same one who will head into World Cup qualifying next month.
Of course, one player who is missing from the current line-up is Atiba Hutchinson, still recovering from a nagging injury, but the forward is being linked with a move this summer, even if his current manager insists he isn’t for sale.
PULIDO FIGHTS BACK
Without a doubt this has been the most interesting story of the week. Alan Pulido, the Mexican international, found himself being kidnapped in Mexico last Saturday. The Olympiakos star was rescued by authorities a short time later thanks, it then emerged, to help from Pulido himself, who apparently managed to overpower and beat one of his kidnappers, forcing the man to tell the soccer star where he was being held. Information he then relayed over the phone to police. Then, in a true soap opera twist, it was announced that Pulido’s own uncle was responsible for the kidnapping! The uncle has since been arrested.
NOW IT GETS SERIOUS
The US Open Cup completed its third round on Wednesday and, unlike in 2015, the NASL came out on top of the USL, winning five of their eight head to head games.
The highlight of the round was also the biggest upset, as the Sacramento Republic lost to Kitsap Pumas of the NPSL, 3-1
With Round 3 out the way Round 4 moves to the bracket format and throws up a NY derby between the New York Cosmos and New York City FC. The Cosmos won this tie last year but can NYCFC pull back some small modicum of respect in the Tri-state battle, a battle they currently stand 0-5 in. The other most interesting tie will be the LA Galaxy vs La Maquina FC of the USASA. The lowest team still standing and who, barring a Kitsap Pumas upset against the Seattle Sounders, stand to gain $15,000 for making it this far.
Yet for all the joy of the cup, one of the biggest problems so far this year has been the number of disqualifications and forfeits due to confusion over the rules. Confusion that seems to have been caused by US soccer as much as the teams themselves.
A CANADIAN CUPSET?
The semi-finals of the Canadian Championship also got underway on Wednesday and, while Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact exchanged blows in a 4-2 victory for TFC, the Vancouver Whitecaps lost 2-0 to the NASL’s Ottawa Fury. Can Paul Dalglish’s side keep it up and become the first NASL side to win the title AND secure a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League?
NEW STADIUMS? NOT SO FAST
Minnesota United find themselves stuck in limbo right now, so far as their stadium is concerned, with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton refusing to sign legislation due to a wording error affecting the Minnesota Vikings own new venue. However, it seems everyone is willing to work on a correction so things will hopefully still move along before next Monday.
As for another team that is hoping to, one day, build a new stadium, will the New England Revolution ever leave Gillette Stadium? Former Rev’s striker and current ESPN Analyst Taylor Twellman believes that they will, but only when the move makes sense for the Krafts.
BACK TO WORK
It didn’t take Owen Coyle long to find a new job, with the former Houston Dynamo boss heading back to the North West of England for the fourth time after accepting the managers job at Blackburn Rovers. That would suggest that the move was already in the works when Coyle quit but it doesn’t seem to have sat well with some Rovers’ fans.
The Dynamo meanwhile continue their own search for a new head coach and, while there is still no interim appointment, it seems one of the Dynamo’s current trio of leaders has one eye on the position full time.
Meanwhile it’s been a bad week for the other former head coach of the Houston Dynamo after a minor car accident forced Dominic Kinnear to miss the San Jose Earthquakes away trip to the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, which the Quakes subsequently lost 1-0.
ATLANTA’S LATEST SIGNINGS
It’s been another busy week for Atlanta United, who not only signed their first academy players but also secured the second member of their senior squad with the addition of 18-year-old Ghanaian striker Jeffrey Otoo, who will spend the rest of 2016 on loan with the club’s USL affiliate: the Charleston Battery.
The Atlanta United academy process is well underway following their first signings and the club has offered some insight into how they selected their first intake of players.
Yet while youth development continues to develop, is the US system in general favoring one very specific demographic?
VIDEO KILLED THE
RADIO STAR INCORRECT CALL?
MLS is one of several leagues who have been selected be FIFA to go ahead with trials on video replays. This could be interesting to see, especially as MLS has already been conducting its own trials, but it’s even more interesting that MLS as a league has so far failed to install even goal line technology, citing the costs as being too high.
As for FIFA, well, while there was yet more scandal involving former President Sepp Blatter, it seems it hasn’t taken long for new President Gianni Infantino to fall under the spotlight either.
I’VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE
Giuseppe Rossi is another player who won’t be featuring for his country this summer, after also being omitted from the Italian squad. Its not been the best of years for Rossi, which would explain the omission. Yet the striker, who was born in New Jersey, apparently regrets choosing Italy over the US, according to his agent at least. We all have regrets Giuseppe.
With the US Open Cup throwing up another New York Derby, who is the best team in the Tri-state area? We used maths to try and work it out, then realised we didn’t know how to do maths, then pulled it back at the end to come to a result that probably won’t surprise you.
ONE TO WATCH
US vs Colombia 9.30pm ET, Fox Sports
There could only be one game to watch right? The US, in their toughest game of the Copa America (not that the others are any easier), are set to kick off the entire tournament. Win and they’re flying high, lose and they’re on the back foot for the next two games. Can the US actually win? Well, yes, of course they can, there are plenty of reasons they could and anything is possible in soccer. However, as someone who was at Craven Cottage to watch the US last time they player Colombia, I’m more inclined to say no.Hopefully I’m wrong.