Landon Donovan ruled out a return for a loan deal to England this morning and while some American and Toffee fans may be groaning, I couldn’t be more excited by his decision. Sure, some would have preferred Donovan to take a permanent move to Europe at the peak of his valuation. Here’s his statements:
“While I enjoyed my time at Everton last season and still appreciate all the support their fans have given me, I feel that it is important to continue to rest and recover this offseason as opposed to going on loan. I never considered being loaned to a club other than Everton, but I have been playing nearly non-stop for the past two years and I believe that this decision will allow me to perform at my best for the Galaxy and the [U.S. national team] throughout the upcoming year. I look forward to re-joining my Galaxy teammates for the start of preseason training next month and beginning our quest for another MLS Cup championship.”
So there you have it. The MLS finally has retained top-tier American talent (for now) in a time when the first breath of stardom occurs for a young USMNT player, he’s on a plane to Europe. Personally, I think it is quite admirable for Donovan to stay. Yes, I realize he is tired and has played virtually non-stop for 2 or 3 years. But Donovan has stuck my his word for most of his celebrated career and one of the most capped USMNT players will be sticking around for a while longer. MLS commissioner Don Garber will be jumping for joy at this news and to have home-grown top talent stick around in the league has been one of the major concerns for Garber over the past several years. He finally caught a break.
Donovan is the cog in the wheel that makes the LA Galaxy go, despite the inclusion of Edson Buddle, David Beckham, and (now) Juan Pablo Angel gracing the roster as key proponents. Donovan’s decisive play and creative movement makes everyone on that squad a bit better and a bit hungrier. Donovan tried to give it his all after coming back exhausted from South Africa but the fatigue was evident in his performances, which were not up to par for his standards. Recovering fitness is the key to Donovan’s workaholic demeanor in whatever environment he ends up in and this next month off for the 28-year-old icon will be more crucial than ever. In the prime of his career, Donovan has all the pieces around him to make a push for a dynasty with the Galaxy. Consistent winners make great stories for the MLS, something the league has been looking for since its inception.
So hat’s off to you, Donovan. Keep wearing that La Galaxy and USA jersey.
Chelsea striker Nicholas Anelka has had his try at 9 different teams all across Europe, including Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers, and now Chelsea. He even donned a Manchester City jersey at one point. Weird. Anywho…It appears the 31-year-old French International is interested in making that number an even 10 by trying his luck in Major League Soccer, according to his agent, brother Claude Anelka. Here’s what he had to say:
“Nicolas told me he is interested in playing in the United States. We could see him crossing the Atlantic, and I’m serious when I say this.”
“He asked himself what he will do once his current contract runs out. The US is quite something, and a dream destination. He says he will give it a try, even though he would earn less money than in somewhere like Qatar.”
Well good thing you aren’t just doing this for money, Anelka brothers. We were worried. A few “good” destinations for the controversial striker?
1). New York Red Bulls: What better way to kick off the retirement party then to partner with international teammate and fellow striker Thierry Henry? Not much, considering the Red Bulls lost their talismanic leader Juan Pablo Angel to the galaxy during the offseason. If Henry becomes prolific at all, Anelka would be a great second striker to partner with and bring some more starpower back to NYC.
2). Chicago Fire: Another team that lost significant starpower up top with the retirement of the USMNT’s best striker, Brian McBride.
Nery Castillo is a fine option (for now), but really the team can’t have Patrick Nyarko up top if it hopes to compete for silverware. The club would love a creative second striker to pair with Castillo and Anelka could fit the bill so long as he carries out his contract at Chelsea.
3). Los Angeles Galaxy: Prolific striker Edson Buddle may be gone in a short time with his current trial with Birmingham City going better than expected and the USMNT striker having a legitimate shot at surviving at a small club in Europe. If the Galaxy don’t get Ronaldihno in six months time, they’ll be looking for a new proven striker with experience (this team has veteran written all over it). Nice fit for Anelka and a great town for him to experience stateside.
Bottom line is Anelka will garner a huge wage packet (in MLS terms). He’ll be on his last legs and could be a distraction with a huge upside for an MLS side looking to sell jerseys and put Chelsea fans in the seats. At least he’s not going to Qatar, right?
So you know what they say, if you grow a long white beard, and live in a remote cave, eventually the Americans will drop something on you. Its almost Christmas time, and fit seems someone must have hit Santa’s with something as he has decided the Glazer family need three Qatari princes to bring them a nice little present this year. No, its not Lionel Messi in a Manchester United jersey, The Qatari royal family are rumored to be planning a bid, which has met with some traction, to buy the club for the absurd sum of $1.5 billion. The reasons for the bid aren’t totally knowable, perhaps the Emir of Qatar wants something else to do on Tuesdays when the Ferraris, the women, and overseeing the slave labor on the 2022 stadiums becomes tiresome. More likely, they are trying to build up there soccer credentials, and the fact they are trying to do it with purchasing power shows what a backward and caustic regime this really is.
So if you wanted to be accused of corruption, and give your accusers some ammo, the best way to do it after winning a world cup bid which should never have even been excepted due the climate in your country, let alone the political concerns, would be to immediately starting using money to buy some soccer street cred. This recent bid for Manchester United seems symptomatic of regime that seeks to use money to further tis interests, so its not too much of a leap then to say they bribed some of FIFA’s sludged dipped delegates to get the bid.
If the bid is successful, and I would give it a 50/50 shot, I can’t wait to see how the fans, already angry at the Glazer’s, will treat the Emir of Qatar when he comes to visit his newest palace. I can hear the chants of “Off with their heads” now, and all the money in the world won’t stop the Old Trafford crowd from loudly and publicly voicing their opinion.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Well the latest color in the Nike Mercurial line is out, and I’ve got to say I like it. The bright orange on black looks classy, and really makes the Nike swoosh pop. I know many of you reading this will already be fans of the Mercurials, and have a great grasp on their features, but here they are again.
Perhaps the best know feature of the Nike Mercurials Vapor is its lightweight, speed design which is built with the speedy striker in mind. For my part, the boots are very light on my feet, and do really like that feature. Near the end of the match, my legs are always tired, and the difference of only a few grams feels like several pounds less on my feet. These boots are no different, and weight a paltry 230 grams. The upper is another part of the shoe I’m a big fan of.
Often in soccer shoes I love the fell of the soleplate, and comfort, but find the touch lacking. In these boots, the Teijin synthetic leather on the upper allows me to be comfortable, but way it molds itself to my foot makes sure I can get a good feel for the ball. They have also added coating on the forefoot of these soccer shoes that is supposed to make the ball stick to your feet better on the run, allowing to control the ball not just tap it away from your opponents.
As for the chassis, is made of glass fibre, which means it’s lightweight, but flexible. And no, you won’t get glass in your foot. As for the studs, they are injected in order to add inner strength to them so you’re not slogging through with the thick heavy ones Nike have used in the past. Apparently this reduces the weight 12% from the previous version, and while I didn’t actually put it on a scale and compare it to a Vapor V, it is loads lighter. The cleat pattern itself is designed for stability and traction when sprinting so it won’t give a driect speed boost, but you will be able to apply more force to the ground in all the right places. The insole is comfortable, and I can’t feel the cleats on my foot too much during a match, other than that they look amazing.
Overall a great shoe for a great price, $239.99 at soccepro.com
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Out of all the absurd things I’ve heard in my time following soccer, this may be the most ridiculous. World-renowned commentator and journalist Andy Gray has commented that World Player of the Year Lionel Messi would struggle with the ferocity of the English Premier League and even believes he could not cut it at EPL (relative) minnows Stoke City. He even claimed that “Barcelona would struggle in the EPL as they’ve never played the likes of Stoke”. Finally, he claimed that La Liga did not have the same depth of quality as the EPL, hinting that Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi would find it hard to score as much as they do in La Liga. Many red flags have to be raised when reading a statement like this:
1). Was Andy Gray severely inebriated at the time of issuing a statement as ludicrous as this one? I know some EPL games can get boring so I wouldn’t blame him.
2). Has Andy Gray ever watched Lionel Messi play or get hacked at on a regular basis in La Liga for his elusive, unstoppable play? It’s amazing how the little magician can stay on his feet when all defenders do to defend is hack away. Insert him into the EPL. Don’t you think he’d have the same old story? Yeah, me too.
3). Andy Gray must not realize that Barcelona have played the top English opposition in the Champions League and knocked them all out of the competition (Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea in the past 3 years). So, Stoke City = challenge? Hmm…
4). Remember when Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 goals in 34 league appearances for Manchester United back in the 2007-2008 campaign? Apparently the answer is no, Mr. Gray.
I’ve respected Andy Gray for as long as I can remember playing FIFA (yes, that’s how I sadly first learned of the man, deal with it). But seriously? I came up with these counter points in a matter of six minutes. If he had thought for longer than six seconds, I can’t imagine Gray saying anything as ludicrous. Unless someone out there can tell me why Mr. Gray spewed out these ridiculous statements, my case is made. Anyone dare to argue?
Didn’t think so.
So the new Total 90 Laser’s are out, and I have to say I’ve taken quite a shine to the colors used. The majority of the boot is a deep glossy black color, with the element staying mostly black as well which makes the green color on the touch pods really pop. Also, the swoosh is bright white, and outlined in the same bright green on the touch pods meaning the boots arte muted, but still flashy. For my part, I’m more of traditional color kind of guy, so they really appeal to my sense of the classic football boot, but at the same time have the splash of color that I need to keep them interesting. Just because I don’t want to wear the recent Safari Edition Superfly, which I think are the soccer equivalent of a Dolce and Gabana handbag. Anyway, the boots look class.
As for the feature, we’ve all heard about the inspiration behind these soccer shoes by now. Supposedly, the brief and inspiration for these shoes comes from clinical research that shows you can reduce the energy a player need to expend per step if wear lighter shoes. I could have told them that for less than they spent on the research, but it’s good to know the R&D department at Nike won’t be unemployed anytime soon. This is supposed to give players the edge at the end of the match. Of course if everyone is wearing superlights, than everyone is doing about the same, and if you had trained your players properly, this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place. Maybe I have a future at Nike after all?
As for the fins and other technology, it seems to actually work. The fins on the instep do help me get spin on the ball, but where I notice the real improvement is accuracy on the volley, which ideal for a tall person like me who often jumps in on the run to slot a quick one into the net. The touch pods help with getting the ball to stick to your feet, and the nearest thing I can compare it too is the touch compound on an Adidas futsal shoe. It creates increased friction in order make the ball slow down and stick to your foot, basically it’s like playing with sticky tape on your instep.
The carbon fibre soleplate is another nice feature as its super flexible and when combined wit the sockliner I don’t get blisters from the cleats when I’m on the run. I also like the cleat pattern as it’s designed for stability and help when you are cutting on the run. Overall, it a great shoe, with some decent technology, and the new color looks great. At $200.00, I still think they are a great deal.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Disturbed and controversial Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has issued a fashion statement by growing fingers out of his head and finding the one hat in the world that will fit on that sort of head. Bold choice, Mario. I suppose people have wished for another hand before…I just didn’t think you would choose this location.
It was a boring weekend in the Premiership as snow postponed almost all fixtures with the exception of Blackburn and West Ham struggling through for a draw, and Sunderland eeking out a win at Bolton. For my part, I’d like to give credit to the hearty souls who braved the cold of Blackburn’s winter, little more than 25 miles down the road from the softies in Wigan who had to abandon their match for “freak weather conditions.” Which begs the question, “How do football matches get abandoned in this day and age? And what gives the FA the right to ruin my weekend plan involving the pub, a comfy chair, and a pint?
Call me old fashioned, but I long for the day when they would clear the show off the pitch lines, put out the hi-vis ball, and get on with it. Yes there were injuries, yes the quality of the game suffered, and yes it was an incredibly fun time. Have a look at the images featured in this post, and ask yourself, wouldn’t you love to see Rooney and Van Persie having a go at each other snow, or watching the practiced skills of Van Der Sar mean nothing against a well struck slippery ball off the feet of Kevin Davies? I was looking forward to Chelsea v. Manchester United to see some slip ups, and for once, an unpredictable result. Often, the decision is based on “fan safety,” which another way of saying that the club doesn’t want to be sued by fans who fall on the slippery paths. Honestly, if you’ve gone outside in the ice and snow carrying your small child, or your elderly, I don’t feel too much blame should go the club for you connecting your backside withe the ground. But, sensibilities must be protected, so most games were called off in for the benefit of the few, or a to ensure a long holiday for the club legal departmen
Sadly, I was reduced to the awkward stylings of Club Brugge who seemed to spend most of their match against Anderlecht, who are apparently their rivals, talking to the touchline. they lost 2-0, and deserved it. The best part of the weekend did come when the home supporters began to pelt the Anderlecht players with snowballs as they tried to take a corner, and after there victory on of the Anderlecht players began to playfully hurl them back, then got into a tussle with a steward who tried to stop him. None of it seemed to ill tempered, but it was a joy to see the fans and players having a bit of fun.
Overall a boring weekend of football, hopefully the snow will clear soon, and the Christmas games will be played, if not, I may have to invest in a Club Brugge scarf.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
NO PAPER! JUST PLASTIC!