Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 2014 World Cup, Bob Bradley, Brazil, Carlos Boganegra, Chris Armas, Costa Rica, FedEx Field, Herculez Gomez, Jacksonville, Jeffrey Calderon, Jermaine Jones, Juergen Klinsmann, Landover, Neymar, Oguchi Onyewu, Pato, Rafael, Santos, Scotland, U.S.
Brazil, led by playmaker Neymar, defeated the U.S., 4-1, in a friendly before a crowd of 67,619 at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, in the second-to-last tune-up before the Americans open qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
The 20-year-old Neymar converted a penalty kick to open the scoring and set up two other goals as the Brazilians improved to 16-1-0 against the U.S., which was coming off a 5-1 rout of Scotland four days earlier in Jacksonville. Neymar’s Santos teammate, goalkeeper Rafael, made three spectacular saves to frustrate the Americans.
Despite some bright spots–including the play of forward Herculez Gomez, who scored the lone American goal just before halftime to cut Brazil’s lead to 2-1–U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann was upset not only with the officiating of Costa Rican referee Jeffrey Calderon but the overall play of his side.
“I think we need to get an edge–more nastier,” he said after the match. ”Maybe we’re a little bit too naive. Maybe we don’t want to hurt people. But that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to do that at the end of the day. We’ve got to step on their toes more and get them more frustrated and make a case with the referee maybe that’s wrong for us, not only the opponents. There was a clear penalty on Herculez Gomez in the second half not given. But it is what it is.”
Klinsmann also took exception with the penalty kick, awarded in the 12th minute for a handball in the box by defender Oguchi Onyewu, and Brazil’s fourth goal, scored in the 87th by Pato, whom the U.S. believed was offside.
Comment I: Klinsmann was criticized in some quarters for his “nasty” remarks. The U.S. wins clean, y’know, or it doesn’t win at all.
Probably a poor choice of words despite his command of the English language. Most American coaches probably would have put it this way: The U.S., for most of the first half, showed Brazil far too much respect and deserved to be down by two goals after 26 minutes.
(Obviously, one player he need not convert is midfielder Jermaine Jones, who could be described as a latter-day Chris Armas with real judgement/anger management issues. His tackle from behind on Neymar–in front of the Brazil bench–was the latest addition to a long list of nasty incidents.)
Comment II: After five years of faithfully giving us the Bob Bradley Bunker, the U.S., under Klinsmann, is attempting to become an attacking, risk-taking side. It’s a work in progress, but some of the pieces don’t fit any longer. Center backs Onyewu and captain Carlos Bocanegra, who was honored before the game for earning his 100th cap, now find themselves without a host of friendly midfielders directly in front of them when they retreat to the top of their own penalty area. Klinsmann’s challenge in the coming months is to identify those fast, skillful players–converted midfielders, if need be–who may lack in defensive instincts but make up for it in smoothly getting the ball out of the back.
Comment III: The early handball call against Onyewu that left the U.S. swimming upstream was correct.
There was a question of whether Onyewu was fully in the penalty area when he handled Leandro Damiao’s shot. He was.
There was a question of whether the ball played Onyewu or Onyewu played the ball. The shot struck the U.S. defender in the left arm, but he twisted in such a fashion–his right arm reaching across his body–that it appeared that he could have caught the ball instead of just knocking it down.
Referee Calderon got it right.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Abby Wambach, AC Milan, Ajax, Alex Ferguson, Alfredo Di Stefano, Andres Iniesta, Bayern Munich, Bruno Bini, Carles Puyol, Cese Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dani Alves, David Villa, FC Barcelona, Ferenc Puskas, FIFA awards gala, FIFA Ballon d'Or, FIFA Fair Play Award, FIFA World Player of the Year, FIFA/FIFPro Best XI, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerard Pique, Homare Sawa, Honved, Iker Casillas, Johan Cruyff, Jose Mourinho, Kongresshaus, Lionel Messi, Liverpool, Manchester United, Marta, Nemanja Vidic, Neymar, Norio Sasaki, Pele, Pep Guardiola, Pia Sundhage, Pique, Real Madrid, Ronaldo, Santos, Sergio Ramos, tiqui-taca, UEFA Champions League, Wayne Rooney, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, Zinedine Zidane, Zurich
Argentine forward Lionel Messi, all of 24, became the first player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times in a row as the world’s top players and coaches were honored at the 2011 FIFA Awards Gala at the Kongresshaus in Zurich.
Messi received the FIFA Ballon d’Or, beating out FC Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez of Spain and Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo in voting that involved national team coaches and captains and selected media members. A two-time runner-up, he joins Ronaldo (1996, 1997, 2002) and Zinedine Zidane (1998, 2000, 2003) as the award’s only three-time winner.
o Homare Sawa of Japan, Women’s Player of the Year. Marta of Brazil, the winner the previous five years, finished second and the USA’s Abby Wambach third.
o Pep Guardiola of FC Barcelona, Men’s Coach of the Year, ahead of Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson.
o Norio Sasaki of Japan, Women’s Coach of the Year. Pia Sundhage of the U.S. and Bruno Bini of France finished second and third.
o The FIFA/FIFPro Best XI: Iker Casillas; Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Nemanja Vidic; Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso; Messi, Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney.
o Best goal award went to Brazil and Santos forward Neymar, and the Japan Football Association received FIFA’s Fair Play award for its response to the earthquake and tsunami that struck its country in March. [January 9]
Comment: The night may have belonged to Messi, but Guardiola deserves the brightest spotlight.
The Coach of the Year award is as close to a Club of the Year trophy as FIFA can hand out, and Guardiola has played a leading role in creating a club for the ages.
A couple of years into Guardiola’s four-year tenure at the Barcelona wheel, his team had already drawn comparisons with Ferenc Puskas’ Honved of the early 1950s, Alfredo Di Stefano’s Real Madrid of the late ’50s, Pele’s Santos of the early ’60s, Johan Cruyff’s Ajax of the early ’70s, Franz Beckenbauer’s Bayern Munich of the mid-’70s, Liverpool of the early ’80s, AC Milan of the late ’80s, and Manchester United of the late ’90s.
On a practical level, Barcelona won five trophies in 2011 and 13 of 16 possible honors since the Catalan powerhouse began to roll three years ago. It is the current FIFA Club World Cup holder, having dismantled Santos, 4-0, in last month’s final, and the UEFA Champions League winner. Its youth academy and scouting system are the model for ambitious clubs worldwide. Its talent serves as the backbone of the Spanish National Team, the reigning world champion.
But on an artistic level, Barcelona is tiqui-taca, that oh-so-pleasing style that features 11 players, each of them comfortable on the ball, nine of the other field players running to provide the ball holder with myriad options, and nothing so ugly as a 40-yard thump into the box that would be described by the British as “speculative.”
Guardiola may have had the horses–Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Cese Fabregas, David Villa, Pique, Carles Puyol, et al.–but he has held to the Barcelona way and gotten everyone on the same page. And to the observer, what they do game by game is so much more appealing than what they’ve done.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 1982 World Cup, 1986 World Cup, Barcelona, Falcao, Fiorentina, Flamengo, Italy, Leandro, Oscar, Rai, Ribeirao Preto, Santos, Sao Paolo, Serginho, Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, Toninho Cerezo, Zico
Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, one of the stars of the 1982 and 1986 Brazilian World Cup teams that dazzled but ultimately disappointed, died at a Sao Paulo hospital of septic shock resulting from an intestinal infection. He was 57. His survivors include a wife and six children
Socrates captained the ’82 Brazil side that, needing only a tie to advance, lost a second-round match to Italy, 3-2, in Barcelona to become one of the greatest teams never to win a World Cup. Socrates scored a brilliant goal in that game, and an even better one in a group-round victory over the Soviet Union. Among those who exited with him were Zico, Falcao, Serginho, Oscar, Toninho Cerezo and Leandro.
Socrates scored 22 goals in 60 international appearances. The midfield maestro’s club tally reads 207 goals in 396 matches, 172 of them for Corinthians, for whom he starred from 1978 to 1984. He later played one season each in the late ’80s for Fiorentina, Flamengo and Santos.
Socrates was a true Renaissance man. He studied medicine during his playing career and went on to practice in his hometown of Ribeirao Preto. Politically active, he founded an opposition movement to Brazil’s then-ruling military government, and he became a popular soccer columnist and TV commentator. At the time of this death, he was working on a novel. [December 4]
Comment: The 1983 South American Footballer of the Year and a member of Pele’s FIFA list of the top living players of the 20th century, Socrates is probably best remembered by a younger generation as the older brother of star midfielder Rai, a member of the 1994 World Cup champion Brazil team who was ignominiously deposed as skipper four years later.
In his time, Socrates was the face of Brazilian style between the post-Mexico ’70 sag and the embrace of the Dunga-style grit and guile that produced world championships in 1994 and 2002. At 6-foot-4, he thoughtfully surveyed the field from a high perch and would pry open an opposition’s defense with a wide variety of tools, most notably his trademark back-heeled pass.
With Brasil ’14 fast approaching, what’s disappointing is that the hosts, with luck, may win the next World Cup, but they won’t embody The Beautiful Game, they won’t do it with any player as elegant, as thoughtful as Doctor Socrates.