The English League Championship kicked off today with Eric Lichaj going the full 90 minutes and picking up a yellow card in Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 loss. Lichaj was also defending the lone goal scorer. Here are some highlights.
US Soccer might be getting a new crest in 2016. From what I can see online, a lot of people think it is better than the old crest but nothing special. I like it.
Nothing official has been announced yet, but it looks like the Confederations Cup playoff game is going to move from Friday, October 9 to Saturday, October 10. I hope it doesn’t as I likely can’t go on Saturday, but can on Friday. Also, if you have any extra money or are looking for a cool cause to donate to, help send some veterans to the game.
We have a Anton Peterlin sighting! He is now with Boldklubben af 1893 of the Danish third division. No word if the club has any interest in Cody Arnoux (that joke is for Howie and like three other people who might get it).
I haven’t done a links post in a while but the last few weeks have been crazy on my end so some of this might be outdated a bit. But some of this might still be new to you. Anyways, here is what I have bookmarked over the last couple weeks.
I did a numbers/stats thing on the USMNT and Clint Dempsey this past weekend since it is easy to do one of those things when you win 6-0.
ESPN’s Doug McIntyre sat down with Clint Dempsey to talk about a couple things, including losing the captain’s armband. It doesn’t seem like he minds that much.
Jozy Altidore told ESPN that he understands the Gold Cup roster swap that sent him home, but he thinks he could have still helped.
A report out of France says Quentin Westberg might be on the move to Tours FC in Ligue 2. Westberg has started only four of Sarpsborg’s 16 league games in Norway this year, but he has been the starting keeper in three of the last four league games.
Holy smokes. Can you believe that this is the sixth edition of the legendary OT XI? When we started this thing there were actually a ton of American players in Europe. Of the original OT XI, only two (Alejandro Bedoya and Jonathan Spector) are still playing abroad, and five (Ryan Guy, Landon Donovan, Brad Friedel, Eddie Johnson, and Carlos Bocanegra) are retired. Crazy times.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Aston Villa (England) [2nd appearance]
If you want to talk about the decline of American players abroad, look no further than goalkeeper (and talk to our friend Will, who wrote this pick.) Even though he didn’t have the greatest of finishes, it was Brad Guzan who carried Aston Villa through the first half of the season, when they couldn’t buy a goal. Guzan carried his team out of the relegation zone so that when it came to the meaningless games in the season, his poor performance didn’t matter. Admittedly, it’s a weak pick without glamour but of all the overseas goalkeepers, Guzan helped his team the most.
Greg Garza, Tijuana (Mexico) [1st]
Tim Ream, Bolton Wanderers (England) [2nd]
Ventura Alvarado, Club America (Mexico) [1st]
Eric Lichaj, Nottingham Forest (England) [2nd]
Two from Liga MX and two from the Football League Championship make up the backline. Garza basically made Edgar Castillo, the 2013 honoree at leftback, expendable at Tijuana as he also established himself as the likely national team heir apparent to the internationally-retired Edgar Castillo. Ream played a little of everywhere defensively for Bolton and earned his second consecutive team MVP. After time on loan, Alvarado blossomed with the CONCACAF Champions League winners and broke into the national team. Meanwhile, back in England, Lichaj had his healthiest season and made 42 appearances, more than the previous two seasons combined (since they play like 800 games in the lower divisions of England).
Guys, guys! We had a guy qualify to the Champions League out of a top five league! Johnson stepped up his team quality and managed to break in and do his usual thing of being a solid contributor at multiple spots on the flank. His former teammate at Hoffenheim, Williams, makes his second consecutive appearance as he continues to play well for Reading. Morales, who looked somewhat out of his element in early caps with the Nats, has blossomed into an legit prospect and helped Ingolstadt earn promotion, meaning he’ll join Johnson in the Bundesliga next year. Bedoya, meanwhile, continued his strong form in Nantes. With Bedoya’s 4th OT XI appearance, he ties Sacha Kljestan and Clint Dempsey for the all-time lead and is a solid favorite to hold the title by his lonesome sooner rather than later.
Matt Taylor, 1. FC Saarbrücken (Germany) [3rd]
Cesar Romero, FC Pyunik (Armenia) [2nd]
Taylor is basically one of our favorite OT players ever. He is a mortal lock to bang in double digit goals in any season that ends in an odd-numbered year (2011- 17; 2013- 16; 2015- 13) and takes advantage of the lengthy injury absences to Terrence Boyd and Aron Jóhannsson, two of last year’s forward honorees. Meanwhile, another OT favorite completely dominated Armenia, scoring 20 goals as Pyunik won their first league title since 2010. He also inspired us to make a ton of The Joker references, although we probably should have made more, because that’s an awesome nickname.
Tim Ream, D, Bolton Wanderers
Ream has gone from MLS breakout prospect to national team disaster to Premier League overmatched to extremely useful Championship player. He has really excelled the last two years with Bolton, and he’s mostly a classic example of how a players can take a while to adjust to a new country.
Goal of the Year
Aron Jóhannsson really wanted to make this post despite missing so much time injured, so he won this late-season match against NAC Breda in the waning moments with this ridiculous strike from distance.
Performance of the Year
Seriously, Jóhannsson got healthy and just wanted OT honors. Plus he has a desire to spend his Thursdays traveling across Eastern Europe in Europa League. So Gunner Stahl (time to resurrect that nickname) decided to dump two goals and an assist on Excelsior (fantastic club name, I’m glad they managed to stay in the Eredivisie) in a match to clinch Europa League for AZ. Highlights!
With Friedel retiring, that means DaMarcus Beasley is the only player left from the 2002 US World Cup roster still playing. And his Houston Dynamo did a nice prank this week.
The US U-20 team is headed to Australia to train before the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. In case you were living under a rock this week, Gedion Zelalem was cleared by FIFA to play for the US.
If you follow the U-20ers on a regular basis, you have probably noticed that Shaquell Moore has been listed as “unattached” for a while. Tab Ramos said in a chat last week that the defender had been training with Huracan in Spain’s third division followed by Moore signing a professional deal with the club.
CONCACAF announced some Olympic qualifying details yesterday. The US will have two games in Kansas City and one in Commerce City, Colorado. If they advance out of the group, they would be playing in Sandy, Utah at Rio Tinto.
Three Americans (Oguchi Onyewu, Zak Whitbread and Jay Denny) were released by their clubs in England in the last week.
Sebastian Lletget left England last week and his agent decided to fill us in on how complicated it was to get Lletget to LA. Yay MLS roster rules!
According to Grant Wahl, Alejandro Bedoya could have some suitors in Germany and England, while Perry Kitchen is being looked at by teams in Germany, Belgium and Denmark.
Wahl is also hearing that Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood could be looking into getting a new goalkeeper, which wouldn’t be great news for Brad Guzan.
A lot of American greatness going on in Norway. Bob Bradley has led Stabæk to a tie for first on points in Norway’s Tippeligaen. The Fighting Bob Bradleys have won eight straight games across all competitions, including six straight shutout victories in league play, which is apparently a league record. Also, ESPN FC took a look this week at the various players who have become coaches after playing for Bob.
That is not the only greatness in Norway. Rhett Bernstein has had consecutive games with scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals. His four goals are tied for the eighth most in Norway and the most among defenders. Why the sudden outburst in scoring? Having his dad in town to watch him play this week probably helped.
Bobby Wood left the USMNT camp so he could sign with FC Erzgebirge Aue. There seems to be some confusion among the American folk (thanks to trying to translate German reports) on whether he signed a permanent deal or if it is a loan deal (I think it is a permanent deal). I think the confusion comes from most articles talking about Erzgebirge Aue bringing in two players, Wood and Román Golobart, with Golobart coming on loan while Wood signed a contract through 2016-17.
We had some goals this weekend. Aron Johannsson scored his first goal of 2015 in AZ’s 3-1 win over Heracles (highlights). In Scottish League One action, Kevin Dzierzawski scored a goal in Peterhead’s 2-0 win over Stenhousemuir (highlights). And while it wasn’t a goal, Tim Ream was credited with an assist in Bolton’s 2-2 draw to Wolves on Saturday (highlights).
And we had a few goals in friendly action this weekend. Alfredo Morales scored a goal in Ingolstadt’s 2-0 win over Shawn Barry and LASK Linz. As for Shawn Barry, he scored a goal in LASK Linz’s 2-1 win over Trnava. Babajide Ogunbiyi scored a goal in Viborg’s 4-2 win over OB. And Paul Arriola scored a goal in Tijuana U-20’s 4-1 win over Morelia on Friday. Jon Arnold was there and got some quotes from Arriola.
Staying at Tijuana, Greg Garza had to be subbed out of Tijuana’s senior team’s win over Morelia after taking on a hard tackle. He tried to play through it, but it was bothering him too much.
Alex De John is now with IK Start in Norway’s Tippeligaen. De John has made a nice jump from Ekenäs IF (Finnish third division) to TPS (Finnish first division) to IK Start (Norway first division) in three seasons.
Some reading material as you countdown until the weekend.
Coming off a 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday (highlights), the US U-20 team found out that it will be playing El Salvador on Saturday in the win-or-go-home playoff match to determine who will go to this summer’s U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. The game will be on Fox Sports 2 at 5:00 PM Eastern. The US will have a chance to get some revenge on El Salvador as they knocked out the 2012 U-23 team from qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. (UPDATE – Looks like the game is now on Fox Soccer Plus).
Speaking of the U-23 team, Ives Galarcep decided to guess at a possible Olympic qualifying team of MLS players since some of the European-based played might not get released for qualification.
Joe Corona returned from his broken foot to score in Tijuana’s Copa MX match on Wednesday (highlights). Jon Arnold (who has been everywhere this week) was at Estadio Caliente on Wednesday and got some post-game quotes from Corona. Tijuana’s website also got some words from Corona following the game.
For those of you with a Darlington Nagbe-to-USMNT countdown clock, you can probably move the time up a bit. Most people thought he would become a US citizen at the end of 2015 but it now looks like it could be September according to Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson.
Fresh off his loan extension with Charlton Athletic, Oguchi Onyewu got injured while warming up and did not play yesterday while it was announced that he was going to start in Charlton’s 3-0 loss to Ipswich Town.
Haven’t done some links in a while, but here are a bunch of random stuff from recently or two weeks ago (or sometime in the last little bit). Hopefully my workload will ease up after this week and I could do these more often again.