Freddy Adu, Your Bandwagon Is Waiting

Sierra Mist must be pleasedI’ve watched it a few times now, both online and on the DVR. The online copies were all a bit too grainy to actually capture the detail of the move he pulled, though once you know it’s there, it’s easier to pick out. The DVR does it a ton more justice.

I’m talking about the USA U-20s’ second goal (also the winner) against Brazil on Friday, a goal that Freddy Adu didn’t score (he set it up) but which may have been the most exicting piece of skill we’ll see from a United States player this year. Say what we will about the overblown Freddy Adu hype machine, the outsized expectations, and the occasional whinging from the kid who was annointed the Chosen One at age 14 — what he did against Brazil the other night stands on its own. Never mind that he had scored three goals against Poland earlier in the week or that it was his defensive work that created the USA’s first goal against Brazil. That’s all well and good and it suggests very good things for his future as a player. I’m fixated on the trick he pulled to win the game.

Said trick: Adu receives throw-in from Zizzo just yards from the right Brazilian corner flag, drawing the attention of two Brazilian defenders, who immediately crowd him from behind. Instead of just settling the ball on the ground, Freddy pops it into the air with the bottom of his foot (a trick that’s very doable on the Field Turf) and then juggles it toward the corner flag (with defenders in tow). With a defender on each shoulder (as he’s juggling), Adu loops the ball over his own head, wiggles between the defenders, and begins running at the goal (!!!!!!). Another defender approaches; Adu slaloms to his left, finds a little bit of space and snaps off a left-footed shot. The shot is deflected to a waiting Altidore who maturely thumps it into the net.

Maybe the first goal against Poland was a better highlight (because Adu scored on that one). Maybe. But I’ve just never seen an American player pull a trick like that (the overhead flick), much less pull it TO SET UP THE MATCH-WINNER AGAINST BRAZIL.

Freddy Adu, your bandwagon is waiting. Someone get me a Sierra Mist!

The videos:
The Winner Against Brazil
Fancy Goal Against Poland
Fan Video of Poland match

GoldenBalls, meet Landycakes. Landycakes, meet GoldenBalls.

That's hot.So we knew this was coming for a good long while: Becks was going to quit the Spain thing and put himself out to pasture in MLS, and specifically Los Angeles, home of the meaningless regular season game and underwear-free Britney Spears, respectively. (I can imagine Landycakes pulling him aside at the first practice to explain that “You don’t have to really try here, it’s sweet”) That wasn’t terribly shocking. The shocking part was the number they quoted on the deal: $250 million.

(!)

That’s a lot of dollars. A lot of dollars for MLS (certainly), for soccer (yup), and even for American sports (where your average backup center/ stiff in the NBA makes as much as the top strikers in Europe). Turns out that the number exists mostly for PR purposes; according to the folks at FoxSports.com (and specifically Jamie Trecker, the guy who reported that Jurgen Klinsmann would be the U.S. coach!), MLS is only on the hook for $400,000 per year, with AEG and adidas splitting the rest of the bill.

In terms of the actual footie, I think MLS is going to be surprised at how physical Becks is. MLS is not a terribly physical league, and I see Becks actually shoving some dudes around (and certainly getting tossed once or twice). That’s my prediction on January 11th.

Link:
Who’s flipping the Beckham bill?

Which isn’t actually such a big deal since he can’t drink anyway

shaqadu.jpgErr, exactly what the hell does MLS think it’s doing with this Freddy Adu-to-Real Salt Lake nonsense?

Fresh off his two-week trial/ marketing tour of Manchester United, alleged American soccer savior Freddy Adu got shipped from D.C. United to Real Salt Lake, as in Utah? As in, the nation’s capital (and MLS’s most decorated team, inasmuch as MLS teams are decorated at all) to the team with the curbic zirconium name in the nation’s 50th largest metro area — ahead of Raleigh-Cary, NC (51) but behind Rochester, NY (49). Nike has got to be thrilled! And Pepsi too!

There’s no reason this should happen. The Adu thing has been managed from the get-go — with minimal complaints. If the Freddy Adu thing is at least part-marketing stunt, um, why allow this to happen? With two teams in LA? And one in New York? Even Chicago. Come on, folks — let’s keep our eye on the ball here.

(What an odd week for American soccer. Seriously.)

MLS Looks Decent Against Lazy and Polite Chelski!

What is this place, this Bridgeview?You know, they didn’t actually look that bad!

Sure, Chelsea weren’t really in form (as Jose was happy to remind us after the game), and the last thing they wanted to do was make their hosts look bad, but the boys from MLS actually looked like they belonged on the field with the lads from Stamford Bridge. They certainly had a few looks at the Chelsea goal (though it seemed like they had a ton of shots blocked by defenders), and De Rosario’s strike was pretty legit.

Good for you, Don Garber!

Cheers to Jose for actually putting Sheva and Ballack out there to start the game (Sheva seemed more adept at getting himself involved than Ballack, but hey, it’s a long season), and then bringing on legitimately expensive substitutes as well. And certainly Drogba was into it (he even dove whilst under hot pursuit from Jimmy Conrad, who was right to protest)! Good stuff indeed.

I’ll even say that I liked what I saw out of Freddy Adu out there, if only because it’s becoming more and more evident that he has the best ball skills of anyone currently living in America. And it turns out that ball skills matter (which will allow us to overlook the part where he froze up on that breakaway and didn’t get a shot off), especially for the national team. Let’s make sure we keep Freddy in the fold. Though it wouldn’t hurt for him to grow another couple inches; I can’t imagine that he and Shawn Wright-Phillips combine for more than 250 lbs.

Links:
MVP De Rosario Leads All Stars to Win [MLSnet.com]

MLS Coming To Philly Sooner Than Expected?

Reppin the Philly AtomsWhile we’ve been tracking the MLS-to-Philly story for a while now (and have long since sworn to buy Philly soccer officially licensed products as soon as such products might become available), some stories have dropped in the past week that suggest that Major League Soccer might arrive in the Delaware Valley as early as next season.

Apparently in the absence of a new footy-only stadium, the Wizards are not long for Kansas City, and Philly has been identified as a semi-likely new home. They haven’t yet identified exactly where the team would play — Franklin Field appears to be top of the list, at least until the South Jersey thing gets moving — but hey, details details. As noted before, if Philly can sell out minor league hockey and get 10,000 people to show up for Eagles training camp, I think they can put some butts in seats for soccer. (The Phillies are a different story.)

Just please don’t call the team the Wizards. Also, let them wear Kelly green and silver (since Houston stole orange and black).

Links:
Area Could Be Home To MLS Team Soon [Philly.com]
Is MLS Headed To The Area? [Philly.com]
Soccer Could Find A Comfortable Niche In The Region [Philly.com]

Il Bruce To Coach The VRBs!

Look at me in my jeans and blazer!

Remember all the big fancy talk about Bruce Arena looking for work in Europe after the World Cup? Bruce himself even indulged those rumors a bit back when hopes were high (circa early May in Cary, NC). And it almost felt right — Bruce seemed like the kind of coach who might make an impact at a middle-tier European club willing to roll the dice with a foreign coach.

But instead of a foreign club, he signed up with foreign owners and took over the lame and sucky New York Red Bulls (RBVs). Hmmm. I mean, good for the Red Bulls. Sort of. And good for Bruce, since it sounds like he got a raise out of the deal. But I’m not terribly convinced that this is a job that will earn his full attention, and it’s tough to believe that Red Bulls fans (including the better part of the Camena staff) are going to get a better team out of the deal. Maybe Bruce can wave a magic wand and convince them that MLS soccer actually matters?

Now that we’ve had a couple days to process it all, would love to hear from the boys in the NYC about this. We’ve got bigger professional sports stories to fry up here in C@L.

Link:
Arena signs on to lead Red Bulls [New York Red Bulls]

Attention Paying MLS Customers

A thoughtful Eric at homeWhile others have certainly lauded Eric Wynalda in this space before, let me pile on with this little gem from this afternoon’s Galaxy – Revs broadcast on the Deuce. JP casually mentions that Landycakes hasn’t seemed very involved in the game so far. And Wynalda pounces (he can’t help himself) and observes that Landycakes is “coasting” and that “he’s been accused of this before.”

Wynalda then cut Landycakes a little slack about the “coasting” by suggesting that perhaps he was spooked by the Frankie Hedjuk injury and wanted to be safe on the field. Uh huh. Last time I checked, there were paying customers in the stands, and it sure sounds like Wynalda was suggesting that not all the players were giving it their all. Um, these games are supposed to mean something? Sort of? Maybe a little? Could you at least fake it?

Good for you, Eric Wynalda, for calling it like it is out there. (At least until they try to get rid of you.)

Landycakes Out For Vengeance!

America!  F*%k Yeah!Given that U.S. Soccer is for the most part spared a hostile domestic press, it’s quite a thing to find an actual hatchet job on an American player or coach (screeds on Big Soccer or blogs don’t count). So you can imagine my delight when I found this gem on Landycakes in the British papers from over the weekend.

Did we just say that Landycakes “failed to impress” while with Leverkusen last year? NO! He came back ’cause he didn’t like the weather and missed his pretty girlfriend, right? Right? Did we also just see his quote to support the statement, “He admits the quality of MLS falls a long way short of the European game”? (“‘The gap has closed but there’s still a big difference,’ he says.”)

Also, he vows revenge against the German team. Ummm. Right.

(But I’ll admit a little grin at the writer’s begrudging compliments for the U.S. squad at the end.)

Links:
Donovan has a point to prove. [Telegraph UK]
An awesome site about Landon Donovan. Awesome.

Good Enough For MLS, Not Good Enough For 5

I don't hate Donovan; I love DonovanRed Bulls midfileder Mark Lisi flew to Germany this week to have noted sports hernia specialist Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck repair his busted tummy. Lisi played briefly in the Red Bulls’ opener against D.C., but the sports hernia has since kept him off the field. He is expected to return to action in 1-2 weeks.

Contrast this with, AHEM, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who suffered a similar sports hernia injury that caused him to play crappily for most of the year and then miss the season’s final six games. While Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck has performed this surgery over 1,500 times (and can boast some pretty famous footy stars in her client list), apparently the Eagles think that they’re too good to trust some downmarket soccer doctor. Uh huh. Blowing the entire season was definitely worth it. And soccer doesn’t really count as a real sport. Uh huh.

(Forgive these moments when we allow our other football passions to cross-polinate on F.C. Camena.)

Link:
Lisi Undergoes Successful Surgery [Soccernet]
McNabb To Skip German Surgery [Some random blog]
Wizards’ Conrad Is Back Following Revolutionary Surgery [Kansas City Star]