There are many in the American sports media who continue to dismiss soccer as an irrelevance on the national sporting landscape. Two games last week helped continue to disprove this asinine notion. A crowd of 46,065 watched the Seattle Sounders beat the New York Red Bulls 4-2 in a pulsating MLS game at CenturyLink Field. On Saturday night a crowd of 93,420 partisan fans watched the United States men lose to Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. Soccer is boring and will never be accepted by the American public, or so some journalists would have you believe. The fans in Pasadena and Seattle would likely disagree.
It is probably in Bob Bradley’s best interests right now for the mainstream sports media to ignore him and his team. Otherwise Bradley would have a lot of questions to answer about his team’s capitulation in the Gold Cup Final. Bradley is getting off lightly in comparison to his peers around the world.
Kudos to Major League Soccer for fining DC United’s forward, Charlie Davies $1,000 for taking a blatant dive to draw a penalty that led to a goal in last week’s game against Real Salt Lake. Let’s hope that administrators in other leagues around the world retroactively punish their cheaters in a similar manner. Perhaps a substantial and accumulative fine for cheating is the only way that the modern footballer will learn to stay on his feet. Punish him where he will feel it the most, his wallet.
The England Under 17 and Under 21 teams followed in their seniors footsteps when they threw away games in a major tournament in ridiculous circumstances. Stuart Pearce’s Under 21’s led the Czech Republic 1-0 with a minute to go and contrived to lose 2-1. The 17’s goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford took notes from David Seaman when a long clearance from Canada’s keeper, Quillan Roberts bounced over his head and into the empty net. Carlsberg should do an ad featuring both teams. The drink would sell well in Ireland, Scotland, Australia and other such countries around the world where watching any English team implode is a national obsession.
River Plate, one of the greatest names in world football and an institution in Argentina were relegated for the first time in their 110 year history on Sunday. The team’s relegation marks the probable end to the presidency of Daniel Passarella. It is a sad way for Passarella to leave his beloved club where he played with such distinction and represented them when he captained Argentina to World Cup victory on home soil in 1978.
Andre Villas-Boas was appointed Chelsea manager earlier this week. He is the second Chelsea manager after Jose Mourinho to have been heavily influenced in his career by former England manager, the late and great Bobby Robson. Robson was a staunch supporter of coaching education and acted as a mentor to Mourinho and Villas-Boas. How ironic that Robson has helped to blossom the career of two foreign and ultimately very successful coaches? Where are the English coaches who have learned from Robson?
The Football Association has long been considered as having their heads buried in the stand when it comes time to moving with the times. Their counterparts at the Scottish FA now seem to have caught the same foot in mouth disease. According to former Scotland manager Craig Brown, the Olympic Soccer Tournament is a “Mickey Mouse” event. “I don’t sense any interest from our players in being part of the Games,” said current Scottish assistant coach, Peter Houston. The narrow mindedness and ignorance of some in the British Isles when it comes to the world game knows no bounds. If Brown or Houston took the time to check the record books, they would note that Giuseppe Rossi, Carlos Tevez, Ivan Zamorano, Hernan Crespo, Bebeto and Romario have been top scorers at five of the past six tournaments while Lionel Messi led Argentina to a gold medal in 2008 and Pep Guardiola led Spain to one in 1992. If the Olympics are a good training ground for players of this quality why is it beyond the SFA to have their players participate if selected? No wonder Scotland are below the likes of Libya, Gabon and Guinea in the latest FIFA rankings.