14 October 2006

Weekend Update

Hi folks. My apologies for my long absence here. It's a busy time for me, first I had a long vacation, and now I have my wedding coming up next week (followed by a honeymoon of course...). All in all, it's been a busy few months. I'm incredibly thankful that Mr. Landry has been able to keep up in my absence, but he's got a busy time coming up too, and so posts might be a bit sparse here until November or so. But we'll do our best to keep up.

Just a few notes. It's been an incredibly boring couple weeks due to the international break in Europe. There have been a few interesting results, but in the end it's just not that exciting. I'm sure I'll eventually find Euro 2008 exciting, but it's just too soon after the World Cup finals right now. UEFA should rework the qualifiers; it's just silly to have a 'group stage' with so many mismatched teams. International matches like Faroe Islands - France or Czech Republic - San Marino are frankly not worth the bother, and it's even worse when it takes so much time away from the club seasons that are just heating up. The big teams had most of their players away for international duty, will have league games this weekend, and then Champions League games in midweek. UEFA have to rebalance their priorities and reduce the international burden, if they want to stay relevant.

And now we're back to the club scene, not a day too soon. The big teams will feel the pain of the internationals; as I write, Manchester United are down 1-0 to Wigan early on. Several players are missing due to injuries picked up while away, and even players who aren't injured will be a bit fatigued after the travel and the matches. Which is all to say that there could be some upsets this week. Beyond Man Utd - Wigan, we could see some competitive matches out of Arsenal - Watford, Liverpool - Blackburn, or Reading - Chelsea. A bit unfair to the big clubs, perhaps, but it does make the league a bit more interesting.

It's a crucial point in the season, when we start to see if the early results are just anomalies or if the surprising early form will continue. The key questions I expect to see answered in the next few weeks:I suspect that this weekend will begin to answer many of these questions. We're still early into a long season, and there will be many plot twists along the way. But I think this weekend marks the end of the beginning. It's been an interesting season so far, and I fully expect that to continue.

10 October 2006

Thanks, Mooch

The untimely passing of Glenn Myernick marks a very sad day for U.S. Soccer. He, along with Bruce Arena, have played pivotal roles in improving the quality of soccer in the U.S. Cheers, Mooch!

04 October 2006

U.S. Nats Next Steps?

Three months have elapsed since this summer's World Cup and it's time for the U.S. Men's National Team to pick itself up from the disappoinment of Germany '06 and start the rebuilding process for South Africa '10. The MLS season is drawing to a close and the Nats need to start the gradual build-up to the summer competitions. The first step on that road is to name a successor to Bruce Arena.

A number of candidates have been tipped for the post, none more intriguing and better suited than Jurgen Klinsmann. Bruce Arena did a tremendous job of developing players and establishing the U.S. as a dominant regional team, but now it's time to take the next step. Klinsmann could build on the solid foundation that Arena has laid and bring some much needed style and saavy to the national team's play. Rumor has it, Klinsmann has already been offered the job.

Whoever is named coach will need to temper his rebuilt team through stiff competition. In order to become a true World Cup contender, the U.S. must gain valuable experience playing top teams in hostile environments. That means a return to the Copa America. Sunil Gulati, president of the USSF has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks. The choice of a new coach will be difficult, the choice of whether or not to participate in Copa America shouldn't be. If you want to beat the best, you need to play the best, and our boys desperately need more experience playing in top competitions. As this summer proved, being the best in Concacaf doesn't amount to much on the world stage.

There is a petition afoot to encourage the USSF to participate in Copa America. I urge you to sign it.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?