It’s going to be an interesting next few months for United States strikers. With only 4-5 open spots on the roster for forwards, no one envies the decisions that Jurgen Klinsmann has to make. We’ve got three vets that will be top prospects for Klinsmann this year: Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, and Jozy Altidore. That leaves two potential spots… and no guarantee on who’s starting… for Team USA.
While Gomez also has years of experience under his belt, the 31 year-old forward was limited by a knee injury this summer. He’s entering 2014 healthy and ready to go, though it seems he’s had a rocky start upon return. With younger, healthier guys coming up as the future of the USMNT, one can’t help but wonder if Gomez is the right choice for the squad.
The 22 year old Icelandic-American is a goal-scoring machine. In the 2013/2014 season thus far, Johannsson has already scored 20 goals for AZ Alkmaar. With a recent minor injury setback, we are interested to see if Johannsson can keep up the scoring power he’s been packing. If not, it could cost him a potential spot on the USMNT roster when they head to Brazil.
Boyd has really come into his own, particularly in club play over the last two seasons, scoring over 40 goals (combined) thus far. Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen much international play with the US squad. What’s great about Boyd is that he knows how to finish it himself, but he knows when to set it up for someone else. He’s a tremendous hold-up player, and an equally solid distributor. Could he be the one to get the job done this summer?
While Wondolowski didn’t start the year off as a favorite for Brazil, he’s quickly letting his goal-scoring do the talking. He’s no rookie to the game, but he’s as committed as he’s ever been. He is a hard-worker and he gets the job done. It’s easy to see that Wondo is hungry for a visit to Brazil, and he’s not giving up his spot until that roster is finalized.
While you may think this kid doesn’t have the experience it takes to step up to the Tournament just yet, you may want to reconsider. His recent stints in league play prove that he’s not only ready, but he’s also hungry for the World Cup. While it doesn’t seem likely that he’s going to be Klinsmann’s first pick, if injuries continue to plague US strikers at their current rate, he wouldn’t be a bad Plan B.
Injuries have been huge this season. With Dempsey, Altidore, Gomez, and Johannsson suffering injuries, we can’t help but wonder if that will affect their play come June.
Dempsey. Altidore. Johnson. These guys are strikers. They’re the playmakers. But are they making plays? With the Sounders, Dempsey hasn’t marked near the goals he did with Fulham. Altidore is tough to gauge. Sometimes he’s hot, finishing everything that comes his way. Other times, he’ll go games without one mark. Can Johnson – though proving himself to be a solid choice for Brazil– continue his streak? Who’s going to get the starting position?
This is Klinsmann’s first World Cup with the United States. He knows that the country is looking to him to get this team out of the “Group of Death” and into the second stage. That puts all the more pressure on his decision and why he is going to pick who he’s going to pick.
We’ll pick five. We’re calling Dempsey, Johnson, Altidore, Johannsson, and Wondolowski. How about you?
Pepsi has unveiled details of their superstar 2014 football squad, bringing together an unprecedented wealth of international talent to create one of the most jam packed, multi-talented and iconic lineups ever. 19 of the world’s greatest players, spanning five continents and nearly 20 countries, are uniting with Pepsi to inspire fans the world over to “Live For Now” in 2014.
Record breaking football superstar Leo Messi, Argentinian international striker Sergio Agüero and young British talent Jack Wilshere will be joined by Brazilian defender David Luiz, prolific goal scorer Robin van Persie and Spanish great Sergio Ramos as part of the global Pepsi lineup. These super six will be bolstered by additional footballing greats from across the globe representing their home countries, including: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia), Clint Dempsey (USA), Tarik Elyounoussi (Norway), Maynor Figueroa (Honduras), Mario Gomez (Germany), Vincent Kompany (Belgium), Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica), Victor Moses (Nigeria), Peter Osaze Odemwingie (Nigeria), Oribe Peralta (Mexico), Andriy Pyatov (Ukraine), Mohamed Salah (Egypt) and Gylfi Por Sigurðsson (Iceland).
“Football has been my passion since I was a little boy and it’s certainly one of the things I live for now. I am so proud to be partnering with Pepsi again and representing the brand globally as part of this star-studded team,” says four-time player of the year and Argentinian captain Leo Messi.
When the team was announced, the Pepsi players took to social media to unveil the entire roster in an exciting digital relay that reached fans across the globe.
David Luiz, Premier League player for Chelsea and vice-captain for Brazil’s national team, comments:
“I’m excited to be teaming up with Pepsi and proud to be part of such a great team. For me, playing football is about making the most of every second on the pitch and showing your love and character for the game – and for the fans. I can’t wait to join fans from across the world and celebrate football.”
The global player announcement also kicked off a series of exciting year-long activities as part of the 2014 Pepsi Football campaign. Not only will the players star in Pepsi’s global television commercial released later in the year, a selection of the players will also be featured on limited edition, eye-catching packaging and point of sale across the globe, designed to bring to life their flair and enthusiasm for the game. Special commemorative packaging featuring the global Pepsi players will start appearing in market in March, while integrations with music, art, digital, interactive experiences and additional special products will be unveiled throughout the year. Throughout the years, football has been a strong driver of growth for PepsiCo, with both its global beverages and snacks brands activating robust programs in 2014.
Kristin Patrick, Pepsi Global Chief Marketing Officer, PepsiCo Global Beverages Group comments:
“Pepsi has had a tremendous relationship with football, going back nearly 15 years. For this, our latest incarnation, we’ve brought together our most impressive Pepsi football roster yet, comprised of players who truly embody our brand spirit and excite and electrify us every time they step on the pitch. Our players know how to live for the moment, and throughout the year we’ll be collaborating with them to bring our fans exciting and engaging content, products and experiences – bringing fans closer to the game they love.”
It is very exciting for us here at the Center Circle to see an American be included in this campaign and we look forward to seeing what Pepsi has in store for this impressive campaign.
With the winter transfer window upon us and a massive amount of teams looking for a viable option to lead their attack, many teams will be turning their attention to Atletico Madrid and Diego Costa. A red-hot striker this season, Costa has paired himself with the best defense in La Liga to move Atletico to the second spot in the league and also propelled himself to the top of Spain’s striker depth chart (despite being Brazilian…you work it out). Will Costa leave Atletico or will he be the first big-name striker to stick with the Madrid-based club instead of allowing La Liga to return to the two-horse race that we were all used to.
For anyone shopping for Costa, there are some definite thoughts that every club should keep in mind before splashing the cash. First, this is only the second season that Costa has scored in double digits. He is also relatively unproven in European competition and most clubs that would want Costa will want him to play in the Champions League. Although someone will definitely make a rushed purchase in order to beat some of the bigger clubs to him, Costa is the type of player that should have at least one more season in top form before he warrants a big money transfer.
On the flip-side, Costa has some serious upside. He is only 25 years old and could still improve greatly despite averaging a goal per game this campaign. Another big factor is that Costa has constantly been floating around between teams on loans and he could benefit greatly from a club giving him some sense of stability. Add in that he will probably start getting international experience with Spain and Costa can only grow as a player.
One big aspect of this story would be if Madrid decided to keep Costa. In all of La Liga, any team that has a decent player seems to quickly lose that player to either Barcelona/Madrid or another larger club outside of their country. However, with Atletico sitting so high up in the table with a genuine chance to snag the league this season, it could be a huge first step in establishing themselves as a top Spanish dog for years to come. Although the defense could still return next season and be dominant, the best clubs in La Liga are the ones that can score at will. Personally, it would be great to see La Liga expand the title chase and put more pressure on Barcelona and Real within their own league.
Given how quickly teams are willing to write a check for a new player, it seems highly likely that Costa will either join a new team this month or during the summer. However, the story of this player has only truly begun. At 25, Costa has the capability to become one of the world’s greats and he also has the possibility to become one of the world’s biggest flops. Will Costa be heading for “greener” pastures or will he decide to avoid the career path of Fernando Torres and Falcao?
Any follower of the MLS post-season will be well aware of how Clint Dempsey and the Sounders made their exit at the hands of their most hated rival and really looked like they had been run off the pitch by a team without a true high-dollar star. Considering how much work the Sounders obviously need in the off-season in order to justify the money placed in their squad and in order to reward one of the greatest fan bases in the world, it is surprising that Dempsey would choose to head back across the pond…the biggest question now becomes: will this work?
For Fulham, the Cottagers need some serious help. Their defense is positively porous and their attack sputters if Berbatov is unable to find the back of the net. Martin Jol, the manager the last time Deuce found himself in Fulham, has already been sent packing and Dempsey will have to try and become a big part of Rene Muelensteen’s plans. If Dempsey is able to swing back to the stage where he became a household name and save Fulham from relegation, he might get a boost similar to what we would see when Landon Donovan returned from his time with Everton. Considering they are currently heading for relegation, Fulham has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this move.
For Dempsey, it is a chance to return to form. His time in MLS definitely started with more of a whimper than a roar and the Sounders would love for their big money asset to return to his defense-terrorizing ways. This move allows Dempsey to jump back into one of the most intense leagues in the world and face competition that will push his game to a completely different level. In reality, this move should please USMNT fans more than any other. The last thing the U.S. needs heading into their difficult group would be a sub-par Deuce. If Dempsey jets off to Brazil after a big impact at Fulham that carries over into the early MLS season, he will be a force at the World Cup. Considering the man is making BANK in Seattle, this move is a no-brainer for Dempsey.
The only downside for any of the parties involved with this loan would be if Dempsey flops. Considering the talent he has and how badly I (and any other USMNT supporter) want him to succeed, that seems unlikely. However, this is football..and anything (absolutely anything) can happen. Will Dempsey return to Fulham as a savior or will he leave England with his ex-club going down in flames? LET’S WATCH!
Considering how big a fan the entire footballing world has always been of the adiPure range from adidas, every incarnation of the boot has large shoes to fill. Although a good boot, the original 11Pro left many longtime fans of the adiPure range unsatisfied and became one of the few boots to see professionals actively leaving the silo for other boots. With the newest release, adidas will be looking to improve the 11Pro while attempting to bring back old fans and bring in new fans. Did they succeed?
After nearly 2 weeks with most of the Samba collection, we are not yet prepared to offer our full verdict on the new adidas boots, but we are ready to let everyone know what to expect with these new releases and share our initial thoughts of the boot range. First up, the 11Pro II:
The first thing to note for anyone hoping to bring in the new 11Pro would be the sizing. Although the final review will also mention this, going a half size down in this range offered a perfect fit. Especially considering the fact that any natural leather will stretch a bit, ordering your normal size will probably result in an awkward fit and will prevent you from enjoying the boot properly.
The second thing about this 11Pro has to be the inclusion of more leather, more stitching, and memory foam inserts around the primary use areas of the boot. The addition of the leather where the last 11Pro had a very plastic feeling band around the midfoot has been a massive improvement. For 99% of players, we love stroking around pass with the instep of the boot and the leather on this boot allows you to make those passes with ease. The extra stitching seems to be primarily for the inclusion of the memory foam in the upper, both of which seem to make for a much more cushioned area on the toe box. Although I expect this area of the boot to continue to soften with use, much like a higher quality leather, the initial softness is very impressive.
The new soleplate seems like a step back towards the original adiZero soleplate with a slightly wider base. Gone are the conical studs, replaced by the almost-triangular studs that adidas has been fiddling with for several boot incarnations. With the new F50 studs being a completely new set-up, it seems like adidas might have made a good choice with the 11Pro II, but to claim it as new technology seems a bit of a stretch.
Keep an eye out for the full review within the next few weeks, but the new 11Pro definitely seems like a better mixture of past, present, and future than the original 11Pro. Although the bright purple color may not suit the average footballer, the boot beneath the paint job is certainly worth your time.
Shortly after the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers romped to a close last night, the official US Soccer website put out a picture with the hashtag “YoureWelcomeMexico” as the USA rubbed salt into the Mexican wounds.
Make no mistake about it, Mexico got extremely lucky last night. El Tri were as listless and limp as ever as they succumbed to a 2-1 loss in Costa Rica to a Ticos side who had already qualified for the Mundial. Seemingly no one knows what to do to rectify the situation for El Tri…
Even the Mexican federation had little faith in their team, why else would they launch an early release of the new 2014 World Cup Mexico Jerseys? Way ahead of any other World Cup teams? Way ahead of the original set schedule?
What needs to happen? As blase as it sounds, Mexico needs to get Carlos Vela in there somehow…is he Leo Messi? No. But Mexico is an altogether different prospect when he’s in there with Gio and Chicharito. The team needs something to bring back the swagger of ages past and getting mad at the growth of major rivals USA is a great way to inject some anger into the team.
Beyond that…who knows? The two legged playoff versus New Zealand will be no joke, the All-Whites are a dangerous side who Mexico will do well to be wary of, El Tri is in for a fist-fight and that anger needs to be well in place before that playoff starts or NZ will ensure Mexico doesn’t appear at the World Cup in Brazil and that would be sad. Now there is talk of replacing Vucetich with Miguel Herrera as coach of the team…that would make four coaches in one month…not good at all.
While a player is on the ground after an obvious dive, waving frivolously for the stretcher…we forget about why we watch football. When a football powerhouse steals a young starlet away from his hometown club and ends up ruining his career…we forget about why we watch football. But, as soon Eric Abidal started warming up on the sideline to come in and play for Barcelona during a 5-0 win, our love of football came flooding back.
For those of you that do not know about the French defender, Abidal has already had one miraculous recovery under his belt and he fought cancer for several months. After the cancer had finally gone in remission, he was told that it would be a long time before he was able to play top level football again. However, three months later, he was on the pitch for Barcelona as they took home the Champions League title at Wembley Stadium.
As if his story was not inspiring enough, the tale does not end there. In March of 2012, Abidal was told that his liver issues had worsened and that he would need a liver transplant to live out a full life. At the time, his ability to ever return to the game he loved seemed like impossibility and his story seemed destined to have a slightly sour ending.
But, if there was anything that we had learned about Abidal, it was that he should never be counted out. After receiving a liver transplant from his cousin, Abidal began the recovery process. Of course, despite the fact that this man had to recover from MAJOR SURGERY, he is now back in the fold at Barcelona. Not to be redundant, but it is not like Adibal recovered enough to play charity matches in France with local intermediate players. Abidal is playing for a team that is largely considered to be one of the best club teams of all time.
So, the next time there is a player waving the fake yellow card at the referee. Or, the next time that a coach pitches a toddler-esque fit on the side of the pitch. Or, whenever any black spot tries to take away the joy that we all get from the beautiful game, remember the amazing journey that Eric Abidal has been on and remember why we keep tuning in every weekend
Written by: Andrew McCole, Soccerprose.com
Although the matches that happen today might see Madrid march on and BVB end Malaga’s Cinderella run, the Champions League matches from yesterday have left no doubt that Bayern Munich is now the favorite to make it back into the Champions League final and seems the likeliest team to emerge victorious. A 2-0 victory by the soon-to-be German champions against Italian giants Juventus was impressive enough, but the fact that Barcelona stooped to a 2-2 draw against PSG translates into the Bayern club becoming the Champions League favorite.
Although this writer proclaimed the Munich club to be the favorite from the beginning of the competition, a recent stumble against Arsenal had many jumping off the Bayern bandwagon. Despite dismantling the London club when they visited Munich’s home fortress, Arsenal made it a very interesting affair when Munich played the second leg at the Emirates. Then, as if in response to that stumble, Munich went out and made Juventus look second-rate.
Although a second leg will have to be taken into account, Munich seems to be one of the strongest in every area of the pitch of the teams remaining. Barcelona has an immaculate attack force but their defense is typically poor, Madrid can’t seem to string two positive results together, BVB has a questionable midfield, and Juve has already fallen prey to the Bayern machine. Bayern has one of the best defenses in the world, their midfield is filled with international powerhouse players, and their attack is as deep as any other club in the world, making them the deadliest team remaining in the competition.
Remember, Juve knocked out last season’s champions Chelsea and they have looked very impressive throughout the Champions League campaign. PSG looked like they deserved to be on the field with Barcelona, but Munich makes teams look like they have no right to be a part of any competition that Bayern is involved in (including Juventus).
If Ribery, Schweinsteiger, Neur, and Lahm are involved, the German giants have to be considered as the favorite against any other club. Lahm has shown that he is the best outside defender on the planet and Schweinsteiger can control the pace of any match that he is involved with. If any of these players accrue yellow cards or injuries, the tide may turn, but until that happens then it seems that no one should really have a chance against Bayern. If they aren’t already the heavy favorites for most betting companies, then they need to be.
Written by: Andrew McCole, contirbutor, soccerprose.com