Filed under: Uncategorized, World Cup tickets sold to U.S. | Tags: 125, 2007 Women's World Cup, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2010 World Cup, 2011 Women's World Cup, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2018 World Cup, 2022 World Cup, 465 tickets sold to U.S., ABC, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, CONCACAF, England, ESPN, FIFA, Fox, France, Germany, Ghana, Group "G", Group of Death, Italia '90, Italy, Manaus, Mexico, Natal, Portugal, Recife, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sunil Gulati, Telemundo, U.S. National Team, U.S. Soccer, U.S. Soccer Supporters Club, United States, Univision
With nearly four months remaining before kickoff, the United States has the highest number of allocated tickets among visiting countries for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Though its odds of getting out of the so-called “Group of Death” and winning Brasil ’14 are a daunting 100-to-1, the United States, on every level, has become a significant part of the planet’s most-watched sporting event. That’s a far cry from the beginning of its World Cup run at Italia ’90, when a U.S. team of current and former college standouts needed a miracle to qualify for the first time in four decades, then crashed out in three games, supported by a smattering of American fans, many of whom were already in Italy on vacation and decided, on a whim, to have a look.
Filed under: Chivas USA purchased by MLS, Uncategorized | Tags: Americans, Angelica Fuentes, Antonio Cue, Argentines, Bob Bradley, Chivas Guadalajara, Chivas USA, Don Garber, Goats, Jalisco, Jorge Vergara, Lorenzo Cue, Los Angeles, Major League Soccer, Martin Vasquez, Mexicans, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando SC, Preki, Thomas Rongen, U.S. National Team, Wilmer Cabrera
Major League Soccer has purchased the troubled Chivas USA from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes and will operate the team until an owner is found who will build a new stadium for it in the Los Angeles area.
Sale price was a reported $70 million. The original bill Vergara, wife Fuentes, and Antonio and Lorenzo Cue paid MLS to create Chivas USA 10 years ago was $10 million; Vergara and Fuentes bought out the Cues 15 months ago for $40 million.
New owners figure to re-brand the team with a new name and logo.
“Certainly, it hasn’t worked out as well as anybody expected,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “I don’t think this is the fault of ownership, per se. There’s a lot of issues that we, the league, take responsibility for. Now we are just very focused on a new beginning.”
Chivas USA will begin its 2014 season next month under new coach Wilmer Cabrera, the club’s 11th field boss, a list that includes Thomas Rongen, Preki, future U.S. National Team coach Bob Bradley and current national team assistant Martin Vasquez. Chivas’ best season was its third, when it topped the Western Conference with a 15-7-8 record but fell in the conference semifinals.
In 2013, the Goats finished last in the West at 6-20-8, the second-worst mark in the 19-team league. Its attendance for 17 regular-season games at the Stub Hub Center was an abysmal 8,366, a nearly 36 percent drop in the gate from 2012. That was the worst in MLS, which averaged 18,608, the second best in league history. No other MLS club was below five figures in average attendance. Chivas’ co-tenant at Stub Hub, the Los Angeles Galaxy, averaged 22,152, a drop of 4.25 percent in its first David Beckham-less campaign in seven years. The Seattle Sounders led all at 44,038 a match. [February 20]
Comment: About time, and farewell to a failed experiment and a drag on Major League Soccer.
Despite its good intentions to lure Southern California’s thousands and thousands of transplants from Jalisco state, Chivas USA was neither Chivas nor USA. Or maybe it was too USA to be a second Chivas–the 2014 roster shows 18 Americans and just two Mexicans, one fewer than the number of Argentines on the list.
It all looked good on paper, but league rules prevented Chivas USA from fielding the predominantly Mexican side ownership sought, and it was all downhill from there. This secondary version of Chivas Guadalajara quickly became an afterthought and a team damned to stand in the shadow of the older and much more successful Galaxy.
Although the league’s efforts to get to this point were months in the making, it was long overdue nonetheless. Garber adds expansion teams to MLS like a desperately spawning salmon, while he should have been devoting his attention to this weak sister. The concept of a two-team rivalry in a major market remains an enticing concept. MLS will add New York City FC and Orlando SC in 2015, swelling its ranks to an unwieldy 21 teams. It will be interesting to see if New York Red Bulls versus the new NYCFC ignites local passion. In the meantime, MLS is left with the lesson out of Los Angeles that it takes two to make a rivalry.
Filed under: ESPN 30 for 30 Soccer Stories, Uncategorized | Tags: '94 World Cup, 2014 World Cup, 30 for 30: Soccer Stories, Andres Escobar, Barbosa--The Man Who Made All of Brazil Cry, Belfast, Brazil, Ceasefire Massacre, Chile, Connor Schell, ESPN Films, ESPN Films and Original Content, Falkland Islands War, Garrincha Cripple Angel, Hillsborough Stadium, Ireland, Lore and Amazing Feats, Maradona '86, Mysteries of The Jules Rimet Trophy, Oddities, Osvaldo Ardiles, Pablo Escobar, Ricardo Villa, Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, The Opposition, The Two Escobars, Tottenham Hotspur, White Blue and White
ESPN Films has announced that in April it will premiere “30 for 30: Soccer Stories,” a series of documentaries as part of the lead-in to its coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in June.
“Soccer Stories” will “include a mix of stand-alone feature-length and 30-minutes-long documentary films from an award-winning group of filmmakers telling compelling narratives from around the international soccer landscape. In addition, a collection of 10 vignettes about Brazil’s rich culture will be featured throughout ESPN’s FIFA World Cup programming,” according to ESPN Films, creators of the critically acclaimed “30 for 30″ film series. Among its works in that series was “The Two Escobars,” which explored the murder of 1994 World Cup goat Andres Escobar of Colombia and drug king Pablo Escobar’s involvement in soccer in that country.
Said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films and Original Content, “With ESPN being the home of the 2014 World Cup, we know that sports fans will be looking forward to high-quality content focused on what is perhaps the world’s most revered sport. We feel this is the perfect time to expand upon the success of our “30 for 30″ series by focusing this collection on some of the incredible stories of soccer’s legendary past.” [January 11]
Comment: ”Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats” hereby grants ESPN permission to use the title “Soccer Stories” for its series of pre-Brasil ’14 documentaries.
Indeed, soccer is a treasure trove of compelling, ironic, tragic and humorous tales. Some are even true, others apocryphal. Many beg to be told. The Hillsborough Stadium disaster is part of the ESPN series–one of its two feature-length films–and it’s part of “Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities. Lore and Amazing Feats” the book, as well. So is a profile of the tragic life of Brazilian great Garrincha, entitled “Garrincha, Crippled Angel” in the ESPN series. And “Barbosa–The Man Who Made All of Brazil Cry.” And “The Opposition” (about the 1973 military coup that led to Chile’s national stadium being turned into a concentration camp/execution ground). And “Mysteries of The Jules Rimet Trophy.” And “Maradona ’86.”
The ESPN series is rounded out by “White, Blue and White,” a feature-length exploration of Osvaldo Ardiles’ and Ricardo Villa’s stardom in England with Tottenham Hotspur on the eve of the Falkland Islands War, and “Ceasefire Massacre,” about the terrorist murder of six men at a small pub outside Belfast who were watching Ireland play in the ’94 World Cup. Neither made the “Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats” cut.
Perhaps ESPN’s “Soccer Stories” will prove to be an effective scene-setter for its World Cup coverage. Not that a World Cup needs much in the way of an hors d’oeuvre, but soccer people in this country are a funny lot. Many play but will not watch televised soccer on a regular basis or follow it through the press or Internet. Some will watch only their kid or a favorite club. Some are ex-patriates who’ll wake up and make like a fan only if the homeland is playing in a World Cup; some are Americans who, Olympic-like, pay attention only in World Cup years. They’re all missing the soul of their sport, the incredible worldwide kaleidoscope that is soccer.
Look for ESPN’s “30 for 30: Soccer Stories.” Soccer is alluring, exciting, exhilarating; by turns, it makes dreams come true and crushes hopes. But you have to take the trouble to meet it halfway. If you’re only playing, if you’re only coaching, if you’re only officiating, if you’re only watching, you’re missing out.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: England, FIFA, Howard Webb, International Football Association Board, Northern Ireland, Pandora's Box, Scotland, video replays for officials, Viktor Kassai, Wales
World soccer’s rules-making body will have a look at the controversial issue of video replays.
The International Football Association Board will discuss “Video Replays for Match Officials,” the final item listed among “any other business” on the agenda for its next annual meeting, scheduled for March 1 in Zurich. It is not clear who placed the topic on the agenda. The possibility of video replay has been vigorously opposed by FIFA leadership in recent years.
Other matters to be discussed are the idea of ice hockey-style penalty boxes for recreational soccer, protective headwear for male players, and a ban on players who reveal personal statements on their undershirt.
The IFAB is made up of four members representing FIFA and one each from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [February 4]
Comment: So the group that green-lighted goal-line technology has decided to take another peek under the lid of Pandora’s Box.
Chances are this discussion next month will be nothing more than just talk, but it leaves the impression that video replays in soccer are inevitable.
That would be a victory for those who want the referee and his assistants to get it right all the time, whatever the cost. And who, really, wants to see a match decided by officiating mistakes? But video replay isn’t going to produce perfection–camera angles lie and sometimes everyone in the stadium misses a reason to request a video review.
Above all, video replay would be a severe blow to the authority of the officials. Suddenly, the referee goes from being The Final Word on the field to The Suggestor. He or she would be looked upon differently by players, coaches, spectators and the media once an incorrect call is not only fully exposed but officially goes into the books as a blunder that has to be reversed.
The referee is ridiculed, reviled, even despised, as it is, but his authority, when wielded appropriately, puts him on a par with a schoolteacher adequately keeping an unruly classroom under control. Diminish that authority, and the overall player-referee dynamic flies out of control. And, obviously, video replay would be used only at the game’s highest levels; thus, the top officials would be the ones falling the farthest. Once the public sees a decision by Howard Webb or Viktor Kassai overturned, on the field, before a filled stadium and a national or worldwide TV audience, the standing of every referee below is indeed diminished.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 1962 Intercontinental Cup, Argentina, Ballon d'Or, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Black Panther, Black Pearl, Brasilia, Bulgaria, Cristiano Ronaldo, El Copa del Rey, Eusebio, FC Barcelona, FIFA World Player of the Year, Franck Ribery, Jupp Heynckes, La Liga, Lionel Messi, Manchester United, Nadine Angerer, Pele, Portugal, Real Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Stockholm, Sweden, Sylvia Neid, UEFA Champions League, World Cup qualifier
Cristiano Ronaldo was named the world’s best player of 2013 in balloting by national team captains and coaches and selected journalists, receiving 1,365 votes to Lionel Messi’s 1,205 and Franck Ribery’s 1,127.
The Portugal and Real Madrid star received his Ballon d’Or trophy at the annual FIFA awards gala in Zurich. Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was the women’s winner. Jupp Heynckes, who led Bayern Munich to the UEFA Champions League crown, plus the German league and cup double, was the top men’s coach. Germany’s Sylvia Neid was selected the world’s best women’s coach.
Ronaldo’s triumph was his first since 2008, when he won what was then known as the FIFA World Player of the Year award, while with Manchester United. The following year, he finished second to Argentina’s Messi. The FC Barcelona striker would go on to capture the honor the next three years as well, with Ronaldo the runner-up in 2011 and 2012. [January 13]
Comment: It was an emotional Ronaldo who accepted the trophy as world’s best from Pele, who earlier had accepted an honorary Ballon d’Or of his own. Still, he had to be thinking about “the little man” in his rear-view mirror.
Though Ronaldo scored 69 goals in 2013, capping it in November with a stirring hat trick in Stockholm that lifted the Portuguese to victory in its World Cup playoff with Sweden, he won by default. Messi may have finished second, but he was hobbled three times by injury during the year–and opened 2014 like he’d never missed a beat.
Ironic that Pele would be honored the same night that his rival, the great Eusebio, was eulogized. The Black Pearl and the Black Panther, who died January 5, met in the 1962 Intercontinental Cup, with the irresistible Santos, behind Pele’s five goals, beating Benfica by an 8-4 aggregate as Eusebio scored once. Four years later, at the World Cup, they met again. Pele had been brutalized by Bulgaria in Brazil’s opener. In its final group match, Brazil and a limping Pele bowed out as Eusebio scored twice and Portugal topped the group. The Black Panther would go on to score a tournament-leading nine goals and the Portuguese would finish an unexpected third.
Unlike Pele and Eusebio, we’ve been treated to several clashes between Ronaldo and Messi in La Liga and El Copa del Rey since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009. Nevertheless, here’s to a grand showdown in 2014. If the stars align, Portugal and Argentina could meet in the World Cup quarterfinals on July 4 in Rio de Janeiro or July 5 in Brasilia. Who knows? It might determine the ’14 Ballon d’Or.
Filed under: Klinsmann contract extension, Uncategorized | Tags: 2006 World Cup, 2013 Gold Cup, 2014 World Cup, Bob Bradley, Bora Milutinovic, Brasil '14, Canada, Clint Dempsey, CONCACAF, Felipe Scolari, France, Franz Beckenbauer, Juergen Klinsmann, Mexico, Michel Platini, Miguel Herrera, North America, Raymond Domenech, Ricardo LaVolpe, South America, Steve Cherundolo, Sunil Gulati, U.S. National Team, U.S. Soccer Federation
Juergen Klinsmann has agreed to a four-year contract extension that keeps him at the U.S. National Team helm through the next World Cup cycle and on until the end of 2018. As part of the agreement announced by the U.S. Soccer Federation, Klinsmann also becomes technical director.
Appointed U.S. coach in mid-2011 following the dismissal of Bob Bradley, Klinsmann guided an overhauled American squad to a 2014 World Cup berth. The U.S. finished first in the final round of the CONCACAF qualifiers (7-2-1) and went undefeated in winning the 2013 Gold Cup. The team ended the year 16-4-2 overall, setting single-year marks for wins, winning percentage (.761) and consecutive victories (12).
“One of the reasons we hired Juergen as our head coach was to advance the program, and we’ve seen the initial stages of that happening on the field and also off the field in various areas,” said U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati. ”In the past two years he has built a strong foundation from the senior team down to the youth teams and we want to continue to build on that success.”
Klinsmann reportedly is being paid $2.5 million a year on his current contract and can earn up to $10.5 million in bonuses depending on the USA’s performance at Brasil ’14. [December 12]
Comment: The comfortable throne reserved for the U.S. National Team coach just got a little more plush.
Since the Bora Milutinovic era, when the rest of the world started to pay attention to the Americans, the post has been derided by the international media and fellow coaches (some of them wishful suitors) as a job with none of the intense scrutiny and relentless criticism that hounds most every other national team boss.
Said soon-to-be fired Mexico coach Ricardo LaVolpe of the overall U.S. National Team atmosphere after losing a World Cup qualifier to the Yanks in 2005: ”Here, everyone’s interested in baseball and American football and many people didn’t even know that a soccer match was being played today. So it’s easy for them, because they aren’t playing under any pressure. My mother, my grandmother, or my great-grandmother could play in a team like that.”
We’ll assume that LaVolpe’s grandmother is Clint Dempsey and his great-grandmother is a good deal older, like Steve Cherundolo.
Then, more recently–last December–there was disgraced former France coach Raymond Domenech, who guided Les Bleus to the 2006 World Cup final and then watched his team mutiny and implode in a disgraceful three-and-out showing four years later.
“There’s a job I’d rather have,” Domenech said in an interview with But! Lyon. “Besides, I know [Klinsmann], he knows and he doesn’t care. This post is the coach of the United States. I’d like to see this country. Add to that, the Americans always qualify [for the World Cup]. At the same time, it is easy in North America: there are only two games to qualify for the World Cup. South America is already a paradise, but the North is even better! You play Canada, Mexico. You’ll walk in the Islands.”
We’ll never understand what Domenech meant by Canada, which is ranked 112th in the world and crashed in CONCACAF’s 2014 World Cup qualifiers two months before his comments. That aside, he made his point. Here, there is the lack of the breathless, relentless pressure that has made life miserable for everyone from Franz Beckenbauer to Michel Platini to Brazil’s once and future genius, Felipe “Big Phil” Scolari. And it hasn’t done much for Miguel Herrera, the last in a string of four Mexico coaches run through the grinder from September to November.
While the U.S. National Team is years away from having the support–and scrutiny–of a majority of the country, the resulting atmosphere has spared the USSF the temptation to make panicky dismissals of its coaches and allowed those coaches to go about their business.
In Klinsmann’s case, time to test a large number of players, make mistakes, and, ultimately, over time, alter the culture of the team. Then watch the results at a World Cup. Or, perhaps, a second World Cup.
Not being a soccer nation has its advantages after all.
Filed under: 2014 World Cup draw, USA's Group of Death | Tags: 2014 World Cup draw, Amazon, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cameroon, Chile, Clint Dempsey, CONCACAF, Costa do Sauipe, Costa Rica, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cuiaba, DeMarcus Beasley, Eddie Johnson, England, FIFA Player of the Year, Fortaleza, Germany, Ghana, Golden Generation, Group "B", Group "D", Group "F", Group "G", Group of Death, Guadalajara, Holland, Honduras, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jogi Loew, Juergen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan, Lionel Messi, Luis Figo, Luxembourg, Major League Soccer, Manaus, Maracana, Mexico, Michael Bradley, Natal, Nigeria, Paris, Portugal, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Sao Paulo, South America, South Korea, Spain, Steve Cherundolo, Sunil Gulati, Sweden, Tim Howard, Torsten Frings, Ulsan, United States, Uruguay, Washington DC
The 2014 World Cup draw, as expected, produced multiple “Groups of Death” as the 32 finalists were sorted into eight groups of four nations each for the 64-match tournament, which will begin June 12 scattered over a dozen Brazilian cities.
The United States got the worst of it, being drawn into Group “G” with three-time champion Germany, the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal and Ghana, the nation that knocked the Americans out of the last two World Cups. Not far behind in terms of difficulty were Group “B” (defending champion Spain, 2010 runner-up Holland, Chile, plus Australia) and Group “D” (2010 third-place finisher Uruguay, four-time champ Italy, England and Costa Rica).
Conducted at the beachfront resort of Costa do Sauipe before an international television audience, the draw also produced a first-round cakewalk for Argentina, which was joined in Group “F” by the tournament’s only World Cup newcomer, Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as Iran and Nigeria. [December 6]
Comment I: In a repeat of the Brazilian nightmare of 1950, Brazil will tumble in its own World Cup. Argentina will defeat host Brazil on Sunday, July 13, before a stunned, heartbroken crowd of 73,531 at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, and lift the World Cup trophy for the third time.
Argentina, unlike host Brazil, has been steeled by 16 World Cup qualifiers in the ultra-tough South American region–and finished first. It went into the draw at 6-1 odds, just behind Brazil and Germany. It will be playing virtually at home, without all the pressure that comes with hosting a World Cup. It will have the motivation of the opportunity to humiliate its neighbor and historic arch-rival. Its only question mark is its defense, while its absolute certainty is up front, four-time FIFA Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who will turn 27 the day before his team meets its final group-stage opponent, Nigeria. And the draw produced brackets that make a Brazil-Argentina final possible.
Comment II: To distraught fans of the U.S. National Team: Enough with the hand-wringing.