Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


WHO WAS THE USA’S BEST PLAYER IN 2011?

Some 200 journalists from across the nation are submitting ballots to decide which U.S. National Team member will be the 2011 Futbol de Primera Player of the Year.

Sponsored by FDP, the exclusive radio broadcaster of the 2014 World Cup in the United States, the award–the most prestigious annual honor in American soccer–goes to the best player who appeared in at least three matches for the U.S. in the calendar year.  Those who qualified are Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Tim Howard,  Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Eric Lichaj, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Tim Ream, Robbie Rogers, Brek Shea, Jonathan Spector, Jose Torres and Chris Wondolowski.

First place selections receive three points, second place two points and third place one.

Past winners of the award, until recently known as the Honda Player of the Year:  Hugo Perez, 1991; Eric Wynalda, 1992; Thomas Dooley, 1993; Marcelo Balboa, 1994; Alexi Lalas, 1995; Wynalda, 1996; Eddie Pope, 1997; Cobi Jones, 1998; Kasey Keller, 1999; Claudio Reyna, 2000; Earnie Stewart, 2001; Landon Donovan, 2002; Donovan, 2003; Donovan, 2004; Keller, 2005; Clint Dempsey, 2006; Donovan, 2007; Donovan, 2008; Donovan, 2009; Donovan, 2010.  [October 21]

Comment:  Who would you vote for?  Let us know.

Last year’s vote from here got it wrong.  Donovan won, with Bradley the runner-up and Dempsey the third-place finisher.  Our ballot went to Donovan, Bradley and Cherundolo.  So we need your help before our ballot is submitted in the middle of next week.

Give us a post and list your three top choices, in order.  And feel free to do some lobbying if you so choose.  Bear in mind that the award is for a player’s body of work for the year, so take into account a candidate’s performance for his club as well as his contributions to the U.S. team.

Update:  Dempsey won the award for the second time after being named first choice on nearly half of the ballots submitted by the 202 U.S. journalists who took part.  Howard was second and seven-time winner Donovan was third.  [November 2]

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BELGIUM 1, UNITED STATES 0

Belgium defeated the United States, 1-0, in a friendly in Brussels, leaving new coach Juergen Klinsmann winless in his first three matches at the U.S. helm.

The youthful Belgians, whose chances of qualifying for the 2012 European Championship are slim at best, outplayed the Americans for long stretches and got the winning goal on a half-volley from distance by Nicholas Lombaerts 10 minutes into the second half after the U.S. couldn’t clear a long throw-in.  [September 6].

Comment:  It was only a friendly for a U.S. squad that has plenty of time for experimentation before CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup gets underway in June.  And there were bright spots, including the play of goalkeeper Tim Howard, who spared the U.S. a lopsided loss, and Jose Torres, whose all-around performance gave Klinsmann plenty to consider as he constructs his midfield.  But it was yet another reminder of exactly where the United States stands in the international soccer community.

Since defeating Poland, 3-0, in Krakow in March 2008, the U.S. has tumbled in its last six trips to Europe.  While fans can celebrate some startling high points over the years,  like upset victories over Portugal in the World Cup and Spain and Germany in the FIFA Confederations Cup, the fact remains that the U.S. hasn’t improved to the point where it can consistently beat Europe’s mid-level teams–the Belgiums, the Turkeys, the Romanias, the Denmarks, the Swedens, the Scotlands–in non-competitive games in Europe.  That means that the USA hasn’t made true progress and puts the lie to its place in the FIFA World Rankings, where it usually hovers in the 20s but for one laughably heady moment in April 2006 found the Americans at No. 4.  (For the record, within weeks, FIFA overhauled its rankings formula.)



TAKE A HIKE, MEXICAN STYLE AND SCOTTISH STYLE

One-time Mexican powerhouse Pachuca, reeling from a dreadful showing in the recently concluded clausura season, placed every player on its roster on the market.

“After a meeting, we decided to make all the first-team players transferable,” the Pachuca board said in a statement.  “This does not mean they will go, but that they have the option of leaving the club if that suits their interests and those of the club.”

Among the Pachuca players are U.S. internationals Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres, Paraguay’s Edgar Benitez and Colombians Yulian Anchico, Franco Arizala and Miguel Calero.

The Gophers captured the 2010 CONCACAF Champions League but closed out the year with an upset loss to African champ TP Mazembe of the DR Congo in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.  They then stumbled through the Primera Division’s closing season, posting a 4-7-6 record to bring up the rear in their six-team group.  [May 4]

Comment:  It took days for the Pachuca board to come to its decision.  In another time, in another place, a group of team directors made it known immediately that its players had to go.  From Soccer Stories:  Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats:

IT’S TIME FOR A SUBSTITUTION OR TWO . . . OR ELEVEN

          There’s nothing like the ol’ vote of confidence from the boss–something the starting lineup of Selkirk, a team in the Border Amateur League’s “W” Division, did not receive during its darkest hour, a Scottish Cup first-round match in December 1984 played before hundreds at Stirling Albion.

          Though Stirling was a first-division side, no one was anticipating a double-digit blowout.  Still, the hosts took a 5-0 lead at the half, inspiring their bloodthirsty fans to chant, “We want ten!”  That milestone was reached after an hour, and late in the game the chant was inflated to “We want twenty!”

          With David Thompson leading the parade with seven goals and Willie Irvine not far behind with five, stirling won, 20-0.

          Late in the game, Selkirk officials on the sidelines were beyond mortified and could only laugh at the situation.  They collected as many numeral signs as possible from the fourth official and held them up in a mock signal to the referee that they wanted to substitute all eleven of their players at once.