The Five Billion Person Party

Notes of a wandering American soccer fan

Archive for March, 2009

When Life Imitates Dream Team, Xerez edition

Posted by steigs on March 24, 2009

Boy, I’m glad that Villareal chose this team to loan out Jozy Altidore to.  Sounds like a healthy environment for a teen.  More from the Guardian:

A brothel. A gun. The dead of night. And a football club president sporting a black eye. Sex, violence, intrigue and the game (football, you understand, not the game): the perfect ingredients for a crime novel. Police have let him off without charge, but Joaquín Bilbao has resigned as president of Xerez after he was involved in a drive-by shooting. In the early hours of last Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, according to reports, Bilbao turned up at a local puticlub and wanted to sleep with a Russian girl. When he took exception to being told that the club was closed, a fight ensued. Rather than go home and cool down, he drove off and returned an hour later. Shots were fired at the door of the club with Bilbao’s gun. The chauffeur said it was him and a bruised Bilbao has walked – free from jail and away from the club. “It’s better for the institution for me to go,” he said but his nocturnal escapades have done little harm to his club: Xerez are top of the Second Division.

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When Life Imitates Dream Team, Atletico edition

Posted by steigs on March 24, 2009

Ah, Atletico Madrid, a romantic mess of the Spanish League.  So stylish right now with Aguero et al, yet so easy to score upon.  And so messed up internally.  The Guardian explains how they are Harchester-worthy:

Resino might have been allowed to ditch Maniche, the pie-munching midfielder Aguirre was obliged to play, but he still has a dressing room where the players do not get on. He still has a squad that’s brilliant up front and awful at the back. He still has footballers so bad that, team-“mates” admit: “You can’t even risk giving them the ball.” He still has a right-back who dislikes football almost as much as the rest of the players dislike him. He still has a captain in a huff and a playmaker who hates his guts. Meanwhile, his best players – all four of them – still want to leave. Above all, Resino still has Cerezo and Gil Marín: a president and director general (and majority shareholder) who are destroying what should be a brilliant institution – boasting some of the noisiest and most faithful fans in Spain – but is instead among the worst in Spain.

Atlético are a complete shambles; in debt and embargoed, torn apart by petty battles between the two men who should be running the place but are forever seeking to get one over on each other and what they can out of the club. The son of Jesús Gil and his former right-hand man. The same men who complete signings independently of each other, argue over whose turn it is to choose a coach and told players that they would rid them of Javier Aguirre at the end of the season and then wondered why, his authority on the floor, results collapsed. The same men who have already told their players that Resino won’t be there next year. Some things never change. And, however hard Resino is, for as long as Atlético Madrid remain in the same hands maybe some things never will.

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DCU: Back to the Future!

Posted by steigs on March 5, 2009

The MLS season nears and DC United has unveiled the big off-season signing — Christian Gomez!  With Gallardo, the Gonzalos, and Wells all gone, it’s as if the team has decided to largely wish away a frustrating ’08 season.  Let’s put the band back together!  It’s hard to believe that an attack featuring Gomez, Emilio, Moreno, and Fred will be all that much better than they were a couple of years ago, given the years and the miles on some of them.  But it’s not implausible to think they’ll be better than last year’s offense, even if we can’t count on Olsen for much this time around.  Well, when they’re healthy, which is another issue.

This looks to me like a holding action.  Let’s get another play-off team together, one the fans will like, and hope lightning strikes next fall once we reach the play-offs.  (Alas, it did strike in the ’06 and ’07 play-offs but took out United.)  And then get more serious about rebuilding in ’10, hoping that a few of the kids (Jacobson?  Pontius?  Wallace?) show potential as building blocks when they have to step up to replace over-30 vets.

Over at the Fullback Files, Michael is “refining the roster,” following the Goffster’s updates on who is in and who is gone etc etc.  He seems to be mildly optimistic, like me: 

I’m generally a bit more optimistic than I was just a week ago, and I think we’ve assembled enough good pieces to make the playoffs, but will we be able to do damage once there?

My answer to that, aside from the inevitable health or lack thereof issue, is…Dejan Jakovic, the mysterious Croation/Canadian by way of Red Star Belgrade we just signed to play in the center of the defense.  The backline was a mess all of last year, like a chronic wound always weakening and worrying the team.  We need a Ryan Nelsen or Eddie Pope back there.  Or at least a Bobby Boswell, version 1.0.  Maybe McTavish or Janicki will grow into that.  Or Crayton will organize the kids in front of him.  But just as our problems last season had much to do with the Gonzalos not providing what was hoped for, I think a lot of this year rides on young Dejan, the big off-season signing that no one expected and no one really knows. 

So saddle up the horses for what may be the last hurrah of Gomez and Moreno and Olsen (and Emilio?) — but keep an eye on Dejan.  He may be the difference maker.

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